$40m kitty set up for 5G trials to fuel Singapore's goal of leading in digital economy

SINGAPORE - A $40 million kitty has been set up to accelerate the development of next-frontier 5G applications to support Singapore's ambition to lead in the global digital economy.

One of the key uses of 5G here is in smart port management, where an operator can remotely control driverless cranes and trucks to load and unload containers, or remotely inspect machines using driverless drones.

Port operator PSA International has appointed Singtel and M1 to conduct trials for this purpose, and the telcos are the first to have received a grant from the $40 million budget to be given out over one year.  

Announcing this on Thursday (June 27), Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran said: “We want to be at the forefront of exporting such innovative use cases.”

Describing 5G networks as "a key digital infrastructure of tomorrow", he highlighted six strategic clusters where 5G applications are expected to generate the most value for Singapore in global export. The clusters are: maritime operations, urban mobility, smart estates management, smart manufacturing, as well as government and consumer applications.

Mr Iswaran was speaking at the opening of the fifth annual Innovfest Unbound, the anchor event of the Smart Nation Innovations Week held at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre.

Trials by PSA are expected to start in the third quarter of this year. They will explore the remote operation of equipment and the use of driverless vehicles to move shipping containers round-the-clock between the quay side and the container yard.

 
 
 
 

"5G is expected to play a key role in Singapore's digital transformation and is aligned with PSA's strategy... to boost productivity in our current terminals and the future container port in Tuas," said Mr Ong Kim Pong, regional chief executive officer of PSA International in South-east Asia.

Meanwhile, A*Star's Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre has signed a memorandum of understanding with Singtel and industrial estate developer JTC Corporation to integrate 5G technologies into its smart Model Factory in Jurong.

The Model Factory is a test-bed for advanced manufacturing tools including smart sensors for tracking the location of automated guided vehicles on factory floors.

Besides backing 5G experiments to boost productivity, the one-year fund will also cover the set-up of the first open centre in Singapore to support the testing of consumer-type 5G applications like electronic gaming and immersive media.

The open centre, which will be ready by June 2020, will be at the Infocomm Media Development Authority's (IMDA) existing Pixel facility in One-North.

 
 

The grant will also cover research in cyber-security solutions to keep 5G networks safe, but details will be announced later.

The National Research Foundation and IMDA are behind the fund.