SingTel, StarHub gear up for 5G SA launch in Singapore

Prominent Singaporean telcos SingTel and StarHub are gearing up for commercial launch of 5G standalone networks in Singapore. All telcos in Singapore are currently operating non-standalone version of 5G network. The consumers will be able to access its services only after updating their compatible handset with software patches.

A select number of Singtel users will be offered test units of Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra for the network trial. The handsets would contain beta release of Samsung’s 5G standalone software. The users will also get a setup kit along with a 5G SA SIM card. As per Singtel, the 5G SA network will provide 30% faster upload speed when compared to 4G. Also, 5G SA networks have been deployed across hundreds of locations across the city. These include sites such as Marina Bay, VivoCity, Chinatown, Punggol, Sentosa and Financial Center.

Singapore Marina Bay

Singapore had last year issued two licenses to Singtel and jointly to StarHub and M1. The telcos were offered two chunks of 800 MHz spectrum and the same was used to offer 5G services on existing 4G networks. All telcos expect to have nationwide 5G SA services up and running by 2025.

Jio may use Samsung’s next-gen radio for mid-band spectrum

Jio Platforms, India’s largest telecom operator has plans to use Samsung’s latest 5G radio solution for mid-band 5G spectrum. Samsung has developed 5G wideband radios to support the mid-band spectrum efficiently. The next-gen radios are capable of supporting extended bandwidth, including massive MIMO radios.

These new radios will help Jio to deploy mid-band 5G in a more cost-effective way. These can also support 400 MHz bandwidth, nearly double compared to its current-generation radios. With double bandwidth support, Jio can efficiently manage 5G network in the mid-band spectrum using lesser hardware. Mid-band frequencies help deliver the better service coverage with higher data speeds and lower latency.

Samsung’s wideband radio solutions will be commercially available in 2022 as the company has announced. Jio is already using the 4G equipment supplied by Samsung in its pan-India LTE network. Jio already has plans to develop homegrown 5G. The partnership with Samsung for 5G radios will help the telco for a faster rollout.

5G just got real – with iPhone 12

Tech giant Apple has finally unveiled it’s most ambitious iPhone lineup till date. This time, the lineup consists of not just 2 or 3, but 4 iPhones, with two base models – iPhone 12 along with a small iPhone 12 mini and two ‘Pro’ models – iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. All iPhone 12 variants support at least sub-6 GHz 5G connectivity. While all these models support mmWave connectivity as well, it will only be exclusive to US versions of the phones, considering lack of usage of the frequency in rest of the world.

Tim Cook making announcement about 5G coming to iPhones

On the spec sheet, all phones have been bumped up with Apple’s latest A14 Bionic chip with better cameras paired with LiDAR sensor on Pro models. LiDAR sensor helps achieve higher level of granularity in AR effects. A14 Bionic chip also makes use of Apple’s 5 nm fabrication process. All phones adopt an all-new squared-off design inspired by iPhone 4S. Base lineup comes in two sizes – 5.4 inch for iPhone 12 mini and 6.1 inch for iPhone 12. Whereas pro lineup comes with 6.1 inch for iPhone 12 Pro and 6.7 inch iPhone 12 Pro Max.

These iPhones can seamlessly switch between 4G and 5G networks based on the usage to conserve battery power. As 5G modems are still new and power-hungry, Apple is trying to avoid overheating issues by switching between 4G and 5G. Apple also demoed 5G download speeds picking up to 4 Gbps in best network conditions and 1 Gbps in typical network conditions. And this is huge!

iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max

Apple had skipped going with 5G in last year’s iPhone 11 due to lack of ecosystem and infrastructure. However, things are pretty much different this year and with iPhone 12, 5G has just got real. There has been a lot of talk about 5G going mainstream after this announcement and many operators will probably start kicking off their plans for the network infrastructure. 5G iPhones are definitely going to drive the consumer interest in the next-gen high-speed network.

5G frequencies (sub-6 GHz and mmWave) supported by all iPhone 12 variants (Source: Apple website)

Keeping all the excitement aside, 5G is still in its early days and we do not have sufficient network infrastructure at this point of time except in a few countries and a handful of cities. It will still be few days until these iPhones hit the shelves and reviews are out. There is some skepticism from experts about 5G on new iPhones when it comes to signal reception, battery life and overall performance. But things will be more precise once the reviews are out. While there is no word from Apple about Vo5G or VoNR on iPhone 12, it is safe to consider that an iPhone supporting these standards is still a generation or two away. Also, there is no mention from Apple about any special use cases for 5G. Despite of all this, iPhone 12 is about to bring a necessary ‘push’ for the industry to consider investment in the next-gen network.