Channel NewsAsia

Singapore unveils Super Wi-Fi regulations

Regulations such as which spectrum channels will be freed up for TV White Space or Super Wi-Fi technology, will come into effect from November 2014, says IDA.

SINGAPORE: The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) on Monday (June 16) announced a regulatory framework for the use of TV White Space (TVWS) spectrum, which would free up additional bandwidth for better Internet connectivity and open up business opportunities.

In a statement, the IDA said the regulations will free up approximately 180 megahertz (MHz) of spectrum when they kick in from November 2014. TVWS, also known as Super Wi-Fi, refers to unused or underutilised radio spectrum in the TV broadcast bands that could be used for alternative wireless broadband communications.

Super Wi-Fi technology can cover longer distances and penetrate more obstacles and tougher terrain than higher frequencies such as those used for mobile networks. Its use requires less power and is therefore cheaper.

READ: Super Wi-Fi: What you need to know about TV White Space

"The TVWS regulatory framework is a step towards Singapore’s vision of being the world’s first Smart Nation," said Mr Leong Keng Thai, IDA’s Deputy Chief Executive and Director General for Telecoms and Post. 

"Regulators all over the world are exploring different ways to efficiently use spectrum, so that they can plan for their countries’ future needs. The additional spectrum made available through the TVWS regulatory framework will ensure that Singapore efficiently allocate and use this available bandwidth to support the growing demand for data communication.” 

The regulatory framework was put together following a public consultation issued in June 2013 to seek feedback from industry stakeholders on a set of proposed technical parameters and regulations for the use of TVWS in Singapore. Below are the three regulations:

  • Licence-exempt use of TVWS spectrum
    Businesses that wish to deploy or use TVWS technology may do so without applying for a license from IDA, provided they adhere to technical parameters and regulations for the use of the spectrum.

  • Geo-location databases
    IDA has mandated the use of geo-location databases to determine which spectrum channels are available for use. With this, TVWS equipment can communicate with the databases to identify the available spectrum channel to use in real time, thereby preventing any interference with TV broadcast signals.

    Companies interested to develop and manage a geo-location database service will be required to apply for a Service-Based Operator (Individual) licence, and IDA will waive the licence fees for the first two years.

  • Licencing of TVWS equipment
    Manufacturers and suppliers of equipment with the ability to access TVWS technology and services will be required to register the equipment under the IDA's existing General Equipment Registration scheme, much like suppliers of handsets and communication devices.

Minister for Communications and Information, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, said Singapore is one of the first countries in the world to have such a regulatory framework.

Speaking at the Ministerial Forum on ICT 2014 welcome dinner on Monday, Dr Yaacob said: “The framework will encourage and facilitate businesses and services providers to develop new wireless services and applications, or utilise TV White Space to supplement and enhance their existing networks. Business applications may include machine-to-machine communications, smart metering and outdoor environment and security monitoring services.”

“Consumers, too, will stand to benefit from the services provided over TV White Space, as they will have greater access to more options of wireless services such as Wi-Fi,” he added.

Gardens By The Bay has been experimenting with TVWS technology to boost Internet connectivity on its premises, having introduced the service to visitors in October 2013.

Operational Director Ng Boon Gee told Channel NewsAsia: "Obviously without Wi-Fi, what visitors can use is only the 3G network, and Gardens being a new infrastructure, the network isn't perfect."

"But now with (Super Wi-Fi), we are much better in terms of connectivity. (The technology) allows us to install the system without digging the garden, which is extremely useful to us because that actually helps to save our precious plants," Mr Ng said.

Tweet photos, videos and updates on this story to  @channelnewsasia