World’s first 5G SA roaming trial to take place in Malaysia and Singapore

Malaysia’s U Mobile and Singapore’s StarHub have announced a joint 5G roaming trial. This is expected to be the world’s first 5G SA (5G Standalone) roaming trial that’s done completely on 5G without relying on existing 4G infrastructure.

With this exercise, both telcos will be able to monitor the performance and gather insights which will help them establish key aspects such as the right configuration and settings to ensure a seamless 5G roaming experience for customers when 5G is commercially available. The trial will also allow both U Mobile and StarHub to look into aspects such as the right commercial price point for 5G roaming in both Malaysia and Singapore.

StarHub’s Chief Technology Officer, Chong Siew Loong said “When 5G arrives, we want to continue delivering to customers the same best-in-Singapore connectivity wherever they may be. There is no better place to start 5G roaming trials than in Malaysia, our closest neighbour and one of our customers’ top travel destinations.”

Commenting on the joint 5G roaming trial, U Mobile’s Chief Technology Officer, Woon Ooi Yuen said “U Mobile believes that these 5G SA trials will not only benefit the business and travel communities who regularly commute between the two countries; we also think it will be beneficial to the healthcare industry as 5G SA may enable remote surgery to be done across borders. This collaboration between U Mobile and StarHub will accelerate the take up of 5G services between both countries.”

5G Standalone architecture is seen as true 5G as it doesn’t use the existing 4G networks as an anchor. Most early 5G networks are based on NSA (Non-standalone) as enables them to speed up 5G rollout but eventually they will switch to SA over time. If you’re planning to buy a 5G device, it is recommended to get a dual-mode device that supports both SA and NSA networks for future-proofing.

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The 5G SA roaming trials between U Mobile and StarHub are targeted to take place in the first quarter of 2020. This will include use cases such as live cross-border holographic calls and multi-party video calls. It will be conducted in collaboration with Huawei.

At the moment, MCMC aims to finalise its 5G spectrum allocation as early as Q1 2020 and it is expected to be commercially available in the 2nd half of 2020.

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Alexander Wong