How M1 plans to run Singapore's 5G network

While traffic is not such a problem in a city like Singapore, 5G will help transportation become far more efficient.

Having been awarded the joint rights to operate the upcoming 5G network in Singapore, telco operator M1 plans to draw on its two decades of experience of operating in the country to help Singapore fully realise its smart city dreams.

The country wants to use 5G to support local businesses and advances in the city’s infrastructure. M1 believes it was chosen because of its many successful use-cases, and because it has worked closely with the Singapore government on various Internet of Things (IoT) projects in the past.

As the start-up hub of the region, Singapore already has deep tech environments available through SG Innovate – an accelerator platform with a wide range of deep tech start-ups under their portfolio.

M1 is working with SG Innovate to provide a platform for all new start-ups who actually want to test out a 5G environment and a 5G use case.

Speaking to The Drum during The Drum's Can-Do Festival, Mustafa Kapasi, the chief commercial officer at M1, says while there are many definitions of what a smart city looks like, building a reliable information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure is the key to a smart city.

“ICT can be used for communication, interactivity and transportation. This is the three things of ICT utilisation in a particular environment that starts to define it as a smart city,” he explains.

“While ICT is primarily used for transportation and traffic management, it can also be used for energy management, carbon emissions, waste management, and even crisis management.”

“If you look at what these three things can bring, we want to create an independent infrastructure that supports all these elements in a smart city.”

Economic impacts of 5G in Singapore

5G’s primary purpose in a B2B or B2B2C environment is bringing reality closer to people than ever before in a virtual environment, allowing them to talk and look at each other without actually meeting physically.

To make this augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality possible requires the right infrastructure and devices, which is at this stage, is still in late-stage development, explains Kapasi.

“All of this consumed together can actually bring reality. Now, you and I could be sitting across in face to face each other, but if we had, let's say an Oculus, we could be sitting away from each other, but still able to see each other in real-time and not on a screen, in 3D and feel that we are sitting in the same space,” he explains.

“This will bring a whole new set of experiences, which could never be possible in the past. In industries like tourism, whether it is meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions, all of these environments could really benefit from it.”

He adds: “In fact, for those who can't travel, you could invite them to be virtually a part of this and still be able to expand your market at a very low cost. That’s where the interest and the elements come into the picture.”

How will 5G transform the way people in Singapore live and work?

While traffic is not as big a problem in a city like Singapore, 5G will help transportation become far more efficient when it comes to carbon emissions as the number of buses and the trains in the city can be more effectively managed. Improvements can also be made to waste management, security, and all public services with 5G.

“If these are all put on a platform of 5G with ICT and IoT built into it, all the benefits of efficiencies will help the government to improve the lives of people in Singapore,” explains Kapasi.

“For consumer-facing industries, like for people who are into gaming and esports, their life could quite drastically change. For cloud gaming 5G, people are not required to be in a particular environment and use a device that supports mixed reality.”

Aside from esports, 5G can also help improve education technology and medical technology. Kapasi predicts these are the two big areas that will see significant changes because of 5G in the future.

Pointing to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, he says medical technology has become increasingly relevant as the lack of ability to test people for coronavirus and the shortage of qualified medical doctors in some countries are big problems.

“Sometimes it is an issue of mismatched resources, because if you go to larger countries, you may have the resources, but they are not available all the time. To get efficient with medical staff, having 5G-enabled medical technology which would do remote testing, remote surgery, remote analysis of the patient is very important,” explains Kapasi.

“Imagine somebody sitting in Boston doing eye surgery for you in Singapore, it was rocket science some years back, but with 5G, it is very possible. Or you can imagine yourself being taught by a Harvard professor in your home without having to travel and take tutoring classes from that person directly.”

Kapasi spoke with The Drum's Shawn Lim as part of The Drum's Can-Do Festival, an online event celebrating the positive energy, innovation and creative thinking that can make the marketing community such a powerful force for good. You can watch the interview in full here.

Sign up to watch forthcoming sessions and see the full can do schedule here.

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