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Singapore operators may deploy 5G non-standalone networks in interim: IMDA

THE Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) will support the plans of mobile network operators (MNOs) to deploy 5G networks that ride on existing 4G infrastructure, otherwise known as 5G non-standalone (NSA) networks.

This move will allow trials for consumers to enjoy partial 5G experiences in the near term, ahead of the nationwide rollout of 5G standalone (SA) networks by 2025. The key benefit will be faster mobile speeds, IMDA said in a press statement on Monday.

Singapore is on track to deploy two 5G SA networks by 2025, and by end-2022, 5G SA capabilities will cover at least half of the country. In the interim, MNOs have indicated an interest in using NSA networks as a "short-term and transitory arrangement", IMDA said.

MNOs that receive IMDA’s approval will be allowed to conduct market trials and offer some early commercial 5G services to consumers.

Meanwhile, IMDA will also work with MNOs to develop a regulatory framework to ensure a smooth transition from NSA to the eventual SA networks.

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"We welcome and are supportive of our operators’ interest to make incremental investment in the meantime and leverage 5G NSA technology to offer their customers some early 5G benefits, such as faster mobile broadband experience, while they build their SA network," said Lew Chuen Hong, IMDA’s chief executive.

He added: "These 5G NSA capabilities will also enable them to work with the industry to develop early innovative business use cases to meet early demand."

Once fully rolled out, Singapore’s 5G SA networks are expected to support use cases including remote surgery, autonomous vehicles and cloud gaming, as part of the country’s efforts to strengthen its digital economy.

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