The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) will allocate more radio frequency spectrum to facilitate advanced Wi-Fi connectivity in Singapore, complementing Singapore’s Nationwide Broadband Network (“NBN”) and 5G mobile networks. This will be done through an allocation of 500 MHz of spectrum in the 6 GHz band for Wi-Fi use in Singapore.
Meeting Singapore’s Wi-Fi needs
The lower segment of the 6 GHz band (i.e., 5,925 – 6,425 MHz) provides an additional 500 MHz of contiguous spectrum that has been globally identified as suitable for Wi-Fi use.
The allocation of this additional spectrum will pave the way for the deployment of the latest Wi-Fi 6E technology, that supports usage of wider Wi-Fi channels (such as 160-MHz channels), which is 2 to 8 times wider than the current 20-MHz to 80-MHz channels in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands today.
The wider 160-MHz channels can deliver faster theoretical maximum speeds of up to 9.6 Gbps, doubling the current maximum speeds of up to 4.8 Gbps, and can support lower latency use cases.
This allocation is important and timely to:
1. Meet the increasing demand for bandwidth-intensive and low latency use cases
o For example, there will be more deployment of interconnected devices and robots with autonomous mobility, application of generative AI with higher data transfers, and adoption of augmented or virtual reality with more immersive online experiences involving multiple parties.
o More spectrum in the 6 GHz band with wider channels will ease increasing contention over Wi-Fi and maintain good user experience as these data intensive applications get more pervasive.
2. Enable a seamless experience as end-users transition between the different connectivity options in Singapore
o While NBN provides high-speed fibre broadband connectivity to households and businesses, Wi-Fi is typically the key connectivity medium that takes over from fibre broadband to provide in-unit or in-building wireless connectivity for end-user devices in homes and offices. Wi-Fi technology thus needs to keep in tandem with NBN developments.
o Wi-Fi 6E’s theoretical maximum speeds of up to 9.6 Gbps is on par with the potential 10 Gbps speeds offered by the next-generation technology upgrade for NBN. Without Wi-Fi 6E, end-users will not be able to get the full experience and benefit that the next-generation NBN technology would bring.
o Wi-Fi also needs to keep pace with 5G’s potential peak speeds of up to 20 Gbps to allow seamless end-to-end connection and experience for end-users as they move across 5G and Wi-Fi mediums. For instance, end-users on the move can switch seamlessly from mobile services when outdoors, to Wi-Fi which tends to be the preferred mode of connection in fixed indoor settings such as homes and offices.
Creating new possibilities for enterprises and consumers
For enterprises, IMDA expects the enhanced Wi-Fi connectivity to facilitate greater digital innovation to bring about higher efficiency and productivity. These include use cases in augmented / virtual reality at scale for larger-group immersive experiences in areas such as education and workplace training. Improved Wi-Fi connectivity can also facilitate Industry 4.0 innovations, such as increased automation through robotics and high-definition video monitoring.
For consumers with a large number of concurrent bandwidth-intensive online activities such as remote working, home-based learning and entertainment, they can expect better connectivity at home over Wi-Fi and a more seamless experience when devices shift to mobile connectivity as consumers move outdoors.
Timeline for Wi-Fi 6E in Singapore
IMDA will amend its Regulations to allocate the radio frequency spectrum 5,925 MHz – 6,425 MHz for Wi-Fi use in Singapore.
IMDA expects Wi-Fi 6E-enabled equipment and devices to be commercially available in Singapore by 3Q 2023.
News citation source: Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore https://www.imda.gov.sg/resources/press-releases-factsheets-and-speeches/factsheets/2023/imda-to-allocate-more-radio-frequency-spectrum-for-wi-fi-connectivity-in-singapore