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Singapore IMDA issues three licenses for 5G network

Inside Telecom Staff

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Singapore IMDA issues three licenses for 5G network

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the 5G rollout in Singapore is still on track. “It’s a long-term investment that reflects the confidence of Telecom in the economy. We’re talking about a license for 15 years, so it’s not about today, or tomorrow, or even next year” said S Iswaran, Minister for Communications. On June 24, 2020, the country’s telecommunication regulator, Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) issued final awards to three telecoms- Singtel, Starhub, and M1. Australia’s Telecom TPG-Singapore’s fourth telecom operator- who submitted a separate bid did not win the bidding. However, TPG has selected Huawei as its key vendor and will be allowed to operate smaller 5G networks that provide spot coverage using airwaves that are in abundance.

On October 17, 2019, IMDA announced plans to have at least 50% of the city-state covered with a standalone network by the end of 2022. The standalone network uses 5G technology to support developing autonomous vehicles and the Internet of things (IoT). This move comes as part of Singapore’s plans to establish the “backbone of its digital economy” said the Minister for Communications and Information, S Iswaran.

Singapore’s local carriers had to submit their 5G proposals and based on these proposals the IMDA will choose two Telcos to deploy standalone 5G networks. The two licensees will be assigned 100MHz of the 3.5GHz spectrum each. Each telecom has to pay at least $40.18 million for each spectrum lot. On June 4, 2020, Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (Singtel) asked Telecom’s regulator IMDA to give out the two 5G mobile network licenses for free.

Singapore remaining telecom operator that did not win the bidding, will also have the chance to participate in 5G deployment in the delivery of localized services. IMDA announced that Spectrum licenses will be out in the middle of 2020 and would run up to 2036.

The Infocomm Media Development Authority has been facilitating the deployment of the commercial network through the 5G spectrum allocation and regulatory framework. According to IMDA,  the first public consultation documents on the various aspects of 5G technology development and spectrum requirements was released on May 23, 2017. The authority has set July 4 as a closure of the public consultation. However, in response to many requests, it has extended the deadline to receive comments from the industry and public to July 21, 2017. Back then, the authority received 27 comments from different interested parties. However, it took IMDA a while to issue its final decision on the use of long-term evolution technologies in license-exempt spectrum bands.

On May 7, 2019, the authority launched the second public consultation. Yet, it extended the deadline for commenting on July 9, 2019. At the closing of the public consultations, IMDA received 63 response submissions. On October 17, 2019, IMDA has issued its decision on the 5G Mobile Services and Networks. However, on the closure of the 5G Call for Proposal on February 17, 2020, IMDA received three proposal submissions.

On April 29, 2020, IMDA announced the two provisional winners who will build Singapore’s 5G networks. Last month, the companies- Singapore Telecommunications and a joint venture between telcos Starhub and M1- were in the process of completing the regulatory process to be eligible for receiving the final award mid-2020.

According to The Straits Times website, Singtel will use Ericsson for the core components of its networks while Starhub and M1 have selected Nokia and will proceed to supply core network and radio network access equipment. During a virtual press briefing, Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran said, “Our call for proposal did not exclude any vendor”.

Huawei has lost out to Nokia and Ericsson in building 5G networks. However, Huawei has attended the IMDA public consultations with industry players and individuals on the fifth-generation deployment. Despite US advocacy about Huawei security concerns, Singapore has not banned the Chinese telecom giant from participating in its 5G rollout. However, the country has been raising security concerns related to operators. “What we have emphasized is ensuring that the system meets our security requirements,” Iswaran told CNBC.

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Telecom operators play a big role in digital advertising

Ranine Awwad

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Telecom operators play a big role in digital advertising

During the Covid-19 pandemic, buying clothes, running your business and even buying food have been done through digital platforms.  Telecom operators have played a big role in digital marketing especially when it comes to health. Telecommunications services have been collaborating with doctors and charity foundations to facilitate people’s life during the lockdown.

Digital marketing can be done through SMS, MMS, or P2P messaging. With the pandemic, everything went digital. Experts have reported that in 2020, half of global marketing was done through digital platforms. According to Deloitte, digital sales grew by 18% in Q1 2020 compared to Q1 2019.

EMarketer estimates the global ad spending on digital advertising to be $427 billion. Singtel, the largest telecoms group in South East Asia is the leader in the advertising sector.

Sany Kabbani, Telecom Industry Analyst at Google said, “Users in MENA are making decisions online and buying online. Faced with this new consumer reality, telecom operators in MENA are embarking on digital transformation programs.” In Saudi Arabia, STC has done good work in promoting digital marketing as part of the vision 2030. STC already encouraged its customers to digital self-service channels including MySTC app, MySTC Shop, and MySTC 900.

According to ‘Data insights in digital advertising and the role of operators’, 67 percent of brands consider telecom operators as a better original source of data insights than Google, Apple, and Samsung.

The global SMS firewall market size is projected to grow from USD 2.2 billion in 2020 to USD 3.0 billion by 2025, according to the Global SMS Firewall Market (2020 to 2025) report.

The fifth-generation network would be a game-changer for digital marketing. With fast internet connectivity and the closure of the digital divide, the marketing sector is expected to register a significant growth within the next few years.

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Italy decides to exclude Huawei from 5G-core network deployment

Ranine Awwad

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Italy decides to exclude Huawei from 5G-core network deployment

It seems that the 2020 nightmare continues for the Chinese telecom giant Huawei. As an inexpensive equipment provider, the company has been accused by the US for cybersecurity issues. The US has been calling its allies to ban Huawei’s involvement in the deployment of 5G networks. On July 9, 2020, Telecom Italia (TIM) has excluded Huawei from a tender for 5G equipment for the core network it is preparing to build in Italy and Brazil, according to The New York Times. The Italian telecom operator has invited suppliers such as Cisco, Ericsson, Nokia, Mavenir, and Affirmed Networks. However, ZTE and Korea’s Samsung were excluded from the list. “The security and development of digital Italy should be based on an approach grounded in facts and not baseless allegations,” commented Huawei on the decision.

For the time being, Huawei will not participate in the existing core network in Italy. However, it has supplied Brazil with 4G equipment, used for the core network – where sensitive data exists – for the Italian group’s local unit. Huawei executive has warned that Brazil could suffer years of delay in 5G deployment if they consider banning the company.

Italy’s decision regarding Huawei came after foreign pressures. On October 2, 2019, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo warned Italy of China’s “predatory approach” to trade and investment, according to AFP. However, on January 30, 2020 an Italian minister told Reuters that Italy has no plans to ban Chinese companies including Huawei from participation in the deployment of 5G networks. Industry Undersecretary Mirella Liuzzi said that the government should tackle the issue of national safety without being naïve. “They should take the necessary precautions but without keeping anyone out of the doorstep,” she said, according to Reuters.

In 2017, Italy launched a 5G trial to implement infrastructures and services in five cities. Back in September 2017, authorizations were granted for the use of 100 MHz in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band for the rollout. At the end of 2018, the country launched auctions for fifth-generation networks and raised about $7.3 billion.

Oxford Economics published a report entitled “The economic impact of restricting competition in 5G network equipment” in November 2019. The report states that restrictions on Huawei will increase investment costs, slow down rollout, and delay productivity improvements. A lower competition may lead to higher contract prices set by telecom operators for 5G equipment. Italy should take into consideration these impacts while preparing a strategic plan for the post-Huawei phase.

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Batelco and Ooredoo partnership for Global Zone expansion

Inside Telecom Staff

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Batelco and Ooredoo partnership for Global Zone expansion

Batelco, the Bahrain telecommunications company, has partnered with Ooredoo to implement plans to expand Global Zone platform, which was launched in Bahrain in 2019. The platform was chosen to support telecommunications, information and communications technology and to meet the growing requirements of regional data.

The carrier-neutral data center has a rich digital business solutions portfolio including Manama-IX, a carrier-neutral internet exchange, Cloud Connect solutions, and IPT solutions.

“Our partnership with (Batelco) contributes to enriching our product portfolio, being the leading provider of Internet services and FASTtelco as well as providing services for Amazon Web Services (AWS DX) and Global Zone.” Said Abdulaziz Al-Babtain, Head of the Companies and Governmental Bodies Sector at Ooredoo. “The launch of the platform in Kuwait provides our customers with access to additional global paths through the fiber network with little response time and better performance.”

The companies say that the expanded partnership with Batelco will give FASTtelco access to a new set of products to further develop its portfolio by offering AWS DX, Global Zone, MPLS and MN-IX. It will also provide Ooredoo Kuwait clients with access to additional global fiber routes.

The initiative to develop and integrate Global Zone into new markets will create a whole data center interconnection. This data center is powered by FASTtelco, the leading internet service provider (ISP) in Kuwait; acquired by Ooredoo.

Ooredoo Kuwait/FASTtelco and Batelco’s partnership can utilize these solutions for their business needs and, it is hoped, reach new markets, while eliminating the complexity of being connected to other players.

Adel Al-Daylami, Chief Global Business officer at Batelco said, “The company has always sought to broaden its reach, with the aim of meeting the needs of customers and partners across the region. We are very pleased to have Ooredoo Kuwait as a strategic partner to support our regional rollout plans for Global Zone to deliver enhanced services to our customers.”

Moreover, the Bahraini company’s digital ecosystem and strong global network will aid expansion plans for Global Zone in the market. The alliance marks the beginning of a progressive regional partnership effort.

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