Singapore doubled the number of 5G licences it plans to issue and called for proposals for construction of two so-called localised networks, with spectrum to be assigned to all four mobile operators in the city state.

In addition to issuing two citywide 5G licences, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) will now assign mmWave spectrum to the two other operators to deploy non-standalone networks. Each will receive 800MHz to deploy networks targeted specifically at enterprises, for example in factories.

Instead of holding an auction, IMDA will assign 5G spectrum through a call for proposal regulatory process, in which operators Singtel, StarHub, M1 and TPG Telecom are all invited to participate.

Proposals are due by 21 January 2020 and all the spectrum is expected to be awarded by the middle of the year.

The decision follows a two-month public consultation which started in July.

For the two citywide networks, the regulator will assign 3.5GHz spectrum. Operators will need to pay at least SGD55 million ($40.3 million) for 100MHz in the band, along with an annual usage fee.

Successful operators will also be required to extend standalone 5G coverage to 50 per cent of the island by end-2022. The winning companies will also receive spectrum in the 26GHz and 28GHz bands without a licence fee, but need to pay the same usage fee as the winners of the localised 5G licences.

The expanded 5G network opportunity is part of Singapore’s ongoing effort to become a leading digital economy. In May it earmarked SGD40 million to develop what it calls an open and inclusive 5G innovation ecosystem.

IMDA plans to issue additional 5G spectrum in 2024 or 2025.