In Singapore, there are 4 MNOs that operating 4G networks. They are Singtel, Starhub, M1 and SIMBA.

Singtel, Starhub and M1 also operate 3G network on Band 1 and Band 8 while SIMBA is a 4G only network.

On 24 Jun 2020, licenses have been awarded to the 3 MNOs to operate 2 seperate 5G Standalone network. All 4 MNOs are also allocated 26 GHz, 28 GHz 800 MHz to operate 5G on mmwave.

Singtel now operates a Band n78 (3500 MHz) network and it is a SA network but it’s also a hybrid NSA setup.

Starhub and M1 shares the allocated Band n78 (3500 MHz) and shares the 5G SA network.

Currently, M1 and Starhub offers VoNR over it’s 5G SA network while Singtel’s 5G SA network still falls back on VoLTE for voice calls.

On 26 Nov 2021, Singtel, M1+Starhub and SIMBA are all awarded the license to operate a 5G SA network on the Band n1 (2100 MHz),. SIMBA is also licensed to operate the 3rd SA network in Singapore on the 2100 MHz band.

M1+Starhub gets 3 paired lots (15 MHz) of the 2100 MHz band.
Singtel gets 4 paired lots (20 MHz) of the 2100 MHz band.
SIMBA get 2 paired lots (10 MHz) of the 2100 MHz band.

As the 2100 MHz is also used for 3G, First RIght of Refusal (FROR) spectrum,
M1 and Starhub gets 10 MHz (2 pair lots)
Singtel gets 5 MHz (1 pair lot)
SIMBA does not have a 3G network, thus no lots were assigned.

With the new n1 band, current n78 network could aggregated with n1 to improve the 5G speed. Unfortunately, current 4G band (n40) are not allowed to be reassigned as 5G. SIMBA may be at a disadvantage over the other 3 MNOs who already run a n78 network.

At the moment, Singtel, Giga (under Starhub) and SIMBA are operating 5G NSA on bands n1/n78, n1 and n40 respectively. Coverage is limited. M1 is the only one running a 5G SA network (5G NSA was removed in 1st April 2022).

Currently the 700 MHz band is not in use as it is another potential 5G band candidate. 700 MHz band will interfere with TV signal of neighbouring countries. It may be a while before this band is re-allocated for 5G coverage.

In future, more bands might be refarmed for 5G SA. Before that happens, we should also see more of such implementations in the years to come – sub 6 band + mmwave carrier aggregation to boost up speeds.

IMDA charts shows the bands assigned for the MNOs

When choosing a 5G handset, it is important to note that even though all the bands supported on the smartphone coincides with the ones used by local MNOs. it also depends on the provisioning by the MNO and the firmware. Even if the MNO do not block 5G access, the firmware must not be locked to gain access to the 5G network. Unfortunately, manufacturers and operators usually dont talk unless the operator sell the product.

If you have bought a exotic 5G smart phone from online stores and even if it supports all the bands,, there are high chances that it might not connect to the 5G network locally.

Always do proper research before venturing into 5G,

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