Most people equate 5G with fast download speeds. With theoretical speeds of 10Gbps and up — or 10 times faster than the most advanced 4G implementation today — this is certainly true.
But 5G’s ultra-fast speed is just half the story. The next-gen broadband cellular standard is widely heralded as a game changer for consumers and enterprises alike because it combines this speed with ultra-low latency and high reliability, the two other ingredients needed for the Internet to be truly ubiquitous.
This trinity — which Singtel is striving to achieve as it builds its 5G network — is key to unlocking the future and enabling applications that are previously deemed impossible with wireless technology.
CHANGING THE WAY WE CONSUME CONTENT
Even for the average consumer, 5G’s impact will be obvious and immediate because all media applications will benefit from the get-go.
For instance, even though it’s early days, Singtel’s up and running 5G network has already broken the 1Gbps barrier. This means you’re now able to download a full-length movie to your phone in under a minute or stream 4K videos with nary any buffering.
This experience is akin to using fibre broadband at home — only that your phone isn’t tethered to anything and you can be anywhere.
GET READY FOR BRAND NEW EXPERIENCES
5G will also help augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) — two technologies that have yet to fulfil the hefty promises they made years ago — take off in a big way and gain mainstream adoption.
By tapping on cloud rendering and 5G, richer mobile AR and VR experiences can now happen outdoors. We all want to play Pokémon Go with more lifelike Pokémon, interact with them using more elements from the real world and share the enhanced experience with more friends — but all this places extra demand on the network. 5G, with its vastly improved throughput and capacity, is able to cope significantly better than 4G ever could.
5G also has another important property: Low latency. This increase in responsiveness — where you get an immediate response from your action — is highly desirable whether you’re playing a first-person shooter game on the bus or exploring Mars through an AR book in class because it makes the entire experience more natural and immersive.
5G has the potential to redefine the retail experience, too. Imagine going to a supermarket and seeing inventory and pricing updates in real time; or a furniture store that lets you upload a photo of your room and place true-to-scale furniture in it to visualise the final look.
THE POWER TO RESHAPE CITIES AND THE WORLD
While it’s easy to envision how 5G technology will affect the entertainment industry, know that this same set of fast speed, low latency and high reliability characteristics will also spur new solutions in many other places.
For instance, 5G’s high bandwidth and low latency nature will help autonomous vehicles become smarter and safer quicker. With 5G, self-driving cars can ‘talk’ to one another constantly to map out the best route, negotiate their spot in the queue before arriving at a turn, make split-second, crash-averting decisions using data from the onboard sensors and more.
Safe remote surgeries using tele-robotics are also no longer a pipe dream thanks to 5G. Because of the drastically reduced network latency, a surgeon can operate on a patient as if they’re in the same room, when in fact they’re in two separate cities.
Emergency response is another area that will see meaningful advancements. There are already companies exploring 5G drones for quicker terrain mapping or even as ad hoc networks at ground zero; and response agencies looking to upgrade first responders’ equipment with more cameras, sensors and 5G connectivity so that they can relay complex information back to the command centre more quickly for analysis or use cloud computing when formulating rescue plans.
Indeed, with 5G, many scenes that we once thought could only happen in sci-fi movies are becoming reality. Taking the aforementioned boost in AR and VR further, we could be making live holographic phone calls well before this decade is out.
NOT ALL 5G NETWORKS ARE THE SAME
5G’s ability to connect everyone and everything in a high speed yet low latency manner will change the way we live, work and play.
However, for 5G to realise its true potential, proper 5G network infrastructure must come first.
Singtel is one of the two operators tasked to build Singapore’s nationwide 5G network. Singtel is licensed to use the 3.5GHz and millimetre wave (mmWave) spectrum bands, which means it’s well-positioned to offer ultra-fast 5G coverage in dense urban areas as well as suburban areas.
Even at this early stage, Singtel is already showing what its 5G network is capable of. Just this September, it became the first local telco to offer 5G speeds in excess of 1Gbps, allowing Singtel to make the claim of being the fastest 5G network in Singapore.
A free three-month trial for 20,000 existing and new Singtel customers, it uses Singtel’s 5G non-standalone (NSA) network operating at the 3.5GHz frequency.
This prime 5G mid-band is widely preferred by 5G operators worldwide because it offers a good balance of speed and distance — and Singtel is currently the only 5G operator in Singapore to use it. To allow more people to enjoy 5G, Singtel has combined this 5G NSA network with the existing 2,100MHz spectrum to extend its range.
SEE THE NEW FACE OF RETAIL AT 5G NOW@UNBOXED
The best place to learn about Singtel 5G and experience what it can do for you is 5G Now@Unboxed, a pop-up retail store that makes full use of 5G to create a retail experience not seen elsewhere.
For instance, the 24/7 store has self-serve kiosks that let you do SIM card replacements, prepaid card purchases and device collections. While the store is unmanned, you can still interact with Singtel staff live over webcams at the kiosks or have your queries answered by a roving smart robot. This robot is also a safe distancing ambassador as it’s hooked up to the store’s security system and is able to detect customers who are running a temperature.
Enterprises working on 5G solutions can check out Singtel’s 5G Garage. Located at Singapore Polytechnic’s Dover Road campus, the latest addition at this live 5G test facility is a Singapore-first 5G standalone (SA) trial network that uses the 3.5GHz spectrum and Ericsson’s advanced Massive MIMO technology.
Global cloud gaming provider Ubitus recently completed a 5G cloud gaming trial using this 5G SA network and Singtel’s multi-access edge computing (MEC) platform and recorded low latencies of between 8 and 11 milliseconds. That’s a significant 85-per-cent improvement over 4G.
TEST-DRIVE SINGTEL’S ULTRA-FAST 5G NETWORK TODAY
While spots for Singtel’s free 5G trial have been fully redeemed, there’s still a way you can get access to Singtel’s 5G network. Enjoy free access to 5G and an extra 10GB of data worth S$15 a month when you sign up or re-contract on a 5G-compatible device on any Singtel Combo or XO mobile plan. Terms and conditions apply.
Many new phones like the Apple iPhone 12, Huawei P40 Pro, Samsung Galaxy Note20 and Vivo X50 Pro are 5G-capable, so if you’re getting a phone that supports 5G, don’t miss out this opportunity to pair it with the fastest 5G network in the market today.
THE BEST IS YET TO COME
The era of 5G has already begun and it’s poised to change the way we live, work and play.
But creating a world-class, secure and resilient 5G network isn’t easy — and that’s the challenge that Singtel intends to overcome as it works towards building a nationwide 5G network by 2025.
Unlock your front-row seat to the 5G future with Singtel 5G.