Government waives frequency fees for 5G trials
Public consultation on deployment, development of 5G networks begins
Companies interested in using 5G networks can now sign up for trials as the Government announced yesterday that frequency fees for 5G networks will be waived.
The waiver would encourage industry trials for 5G networks, and in turn spark feedback regarding the deployment and development of 5G networks in Singapore.
The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) will be gathering feedback through a public consultation which started yesterday and will last till July 7.
The IMDA has identified several spectrum bands that may be suitable for 5G deployments in Singapore, and the feedback will reveal if the spectrums meet the needs of users.
The feedback will also help to determine if regulations are required to prevent 5G networks from interfering with licence-exempt bands, such as Wi-Fi.
Minister for Communications and Information Dr Yaacob Ibrahim said yesterday that the waiver, which will end on December 31, 2019, will "lower the regulatory barrier" and "encourage industry trials in 5G technology".
He was speaking at the Infocomm Media Business Exchange 2017 (imbX) trade show, at Marina Bay Sands and Suntec City, which started yesterday and will end on Thursday.
It can cost up to $11,200 annually in licence fees to use the airwaves meant for 5G.
5G networks can be up to 20 times faster than current 4G networks with latency of less than one millisecond.
This means that users of 5G networks will enjoy faster download speeds and reaction time between the user and the machine.
5G networks will be better used for the development of the Internet of Things (IoT), such as driverless cars.
5G services are expected to be ready for deployment from 2020, when technical requirements are standardised globally.
Mr Chong Siew Loong, chief technology officer at StarHub, said: "Future 5G networks will be capable of improving overall network capacity and spectrum efficiency as well as enable a wide range of connected services.
"With Smart Nation deployment picking up steam, it is timely for us to look at how we can maximise the potential of 5G for our customers."
IMDA also announced that virtual reality (VR) technology will be introduced in schools to facilitate learning.
VR may also be used in hospitals to train doctors.
The IMDA, Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) and virtual reality and visual effects company SideFX Studios have partnered to introduce VR in clinical training. The technology is being developed with medical professionals at TTSH and have yet to be implemented formally.
Users will put on a VR headset that will recreate a clinical environment, such as an emergency room with a patient on a bed.
They can use a controller to pick up tools or view the patient's medical records.
Surgical procedures via VR can be done in a team or individual setting.
Executive Producer of SideFX Studios, Mr T.K. Ng, said: "Hospitals use synthetic dummies for training their staff. It may be difficult and expensive to replicate burn wounds or injuries on dummies.
"The VR technology allows the users to change the setting easily, from a trauma patient to a burn patient.
"This creates more realistic scenarios to train staff. So far, the responses from the hospital have been very positive."
Social studies classes go virtual
This was no ordinary rowdy class. The pupils of West Spring Primary School (WSPS) were reacting to the farm animals they saw through their virtual reality (VR) headsets. They were also transported to Geylang Serai and Pulau Ubin to learn about early settlers.
Through a collaboration among the Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA), Ministry of Education (MOE), Beach House Pictures and Hiverlab, schools will have the opportunity to incorporate VR into their social studies lessons within the next six months.
Mr Adrian Lim, IMDA's director of education, said: "We want children to enjoy learning, and if technology can augment that, we would definitely want to work on that a little bit more."
A total of 400 pupils between Primary 4 and 6 from five primary schools piloted the use of VR during their social studies lessons in March, and the feedback has been largely positive, with most pupils still being able to remember their lessons even after a month.
Said Mrs Jacinta Lim, principal of WSPS: "The key word here is that they are being immersed in that kind of environment."
An hour-long VR lesson would consist of four different experiences, each lasting about five minutes, at one or two locations. Between each experience, pupils will take off their headsets and engage in a discussion or activity regarding what was shown.
Pupils have complained of giddiness when putting on the VR headsets but managed to overcome it with a little rest.
Educators can feel reassured as one of the developers, Beach House Pictures, a local production company, has aligned the content with the MOE social studies syllabus.
Mr Kwek Yao Chie, 36, a teacher from WSPS who carried out the VR lesson, said: "I told my pupils (about the lessons) a week before conducting them, and they got so excited that they could not stop asking me about it for the rest of the week."