The Infocomm Media Authority (IMDA) today announced the results of its 2.1 GHz spectrum auction to make available more spectrum to support the growth of 5G mobile services. This spectrum is in addition to the first tranche of 3.5 GHz spectrum issued in June 2020 for the deployment of 5G nationwide networks. 

As we know, 2100 MHz is currently deployed for 5G NSA trial and 3G services. With the spectrum now allocated to the 4 MNOs, it indicates that 3G voice services will most likely continue beyond end 2021. Secondly, TPG will finally be able to deploy a true 5G SA network using the 2100 MHz (but with 2 lots of 5 MHz spectrum). No matter what, the incumbents have the most spectrum, TPG on the other end has the least for deployment.

We have yet to hear actual 5G mmwave trial for end users. Maybe that would level the playing ground a bit for the telcos.

Below is the Press release from IMDA.

The successful bidders were Singtel Mobile Singapore Pte Ltd (Singtel Mobile), a consortium comprising M1 Limited and StarHub Mobile Pte Ltd (M1-StarHub Consortium), and TPG Telecom Pte Ltd (TPG). 

Winning BiddersAmount of Spectrum Provisionally Awarded[1]
Singtel Mobile5 lots of 5 MHz paired spectrum
M1-StarHub Consortium5 lots of 5 MHz paired spectrum
TPG2 lots of 5 MHz paired spectrum

Singtel Mobile and the M1-StarHub Consortium may use the new spectrum to enhance the coverage and capacity of their existing 5G Standalone (SA) networks deployed with the first tranche of spectrum issued by IMDA in 2020[2]. Both Singtel and M1-StarHub consortium are on track to establish two nationwide networks with full-fledged 5G SA capabilities[3] with at least 50% coverage by end-2022, and nationwide coverage by end-2025. 

TPG will be required to deploy a new 5G network in the same manner and time frame as Singtel Mobile and the M1-StarHub Consortium’s deployment conditions. TPG must roll out a 5G SA network with at least 50% coverage within two years, and nationwide 5G SA coverage within five years, from the commencement of its 2.1 GHz spectrum rights. TPG will also be required to ensure that its network will be secure and resilient. 

Winning bidders will have rights to the 2.1 GHz spectrum for deployment of 5G network and services from 1 January 2022.

[1] Existing operators holding the 2.1 GHz spectrum are allowed to use some of the spectrum to continue to provide 3G services to their customers if they choose to do so.  
[2] Singtel Mobile Singapore Pte Ltd and the Joint Venture Consortium (JVCo) formed by StarHub Mobile Pte Ltd and M1 Limited were assigned 100 MHz of 3.5GHz spectrum each in the 2020 5G Call For Proposal. All existing MNOs were also allocated mmWave spectrum to deploy localised high-capacity 5G hotspots. With this, M1, StarHub, Singtel, TPG Telecom and mobile virtual network operators are able to offer retail 5G services to end users.
[3] These include network slicing, ultra-reliable and low-latency communications, and massive machine type communications.