Singtel’s New 5G Security-as-a-Slice Capability to Open up New Opportunities for the 5G Network Slicing Market

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By Matthias Foo | 1Q 2023 | IN-6858

In February 2023, Singtel announced the development of its 5G Security-as-a-Slice (SECaaS) capability that can proactively detect and block cybersecurity threats at the network level, thereby protecting network users from these cybersecurity threats even if users do not have any security applications installed. This ABI Insight explores the potential impact of SECaaS on the Network Slicing (NS) market.

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Singtel's 5G Security-as-a-Slice Capability Set to Deliver New Value to Its Customers


In February 2023, Singtel announced the development of one of the world’s first 5G Security-as-a-Slice (SECaaS) capability that can proactively detect and block cybersecurity threats at the network level, thereby protecting network users from these cybersecurity threats even if the users do not have any security applications installed. With 5G Network Slicing (NS), Singtel’s 5G SECaaS provides its end users with a customized network slice that offers additional security and protection—using Palo Alto Networks’ Next-Generation Firewalls and other security solutions to guard against threats like viruses, malware, spyware, and phishing messages—for customers using/subscribing to this network slice. As the security solution is provided at the network level, real-time security updates are managed by Singtel to ensure protection against the latest cyberthreats without the need for user intervention. The SECaaS solution is also able to provide protection for all types of 5G network devices, such as Internet of Things (IoT) devices, which may not support device-based cybersecurity applications, thereby expanding the scope of the service to cover enterprise use cases as well.

Singtel’s announcement is an exciting development as it represents one of the first 5G NS service offerings targeting the general consumer and enterprise sectors. Monetizing 5G’s capabilities and realizing returns on 5G investments have always been key concerns for Communication Service Providers (CSPs), and this SECaaS capability could be a critical development in helping CSPs achieve the returns that they so desire.

New Service Offerings to Propel 5G Network Slicing Market


NS is widely regarded as a key technology for 5G cellular connectivity, with many CSPs looking to create new revenue streams from their NS services and enjoy returns on their 5G investments. In the consumer space, discussions around 5G NS used to mainly revolve around niche consumer applications, such as immersive High-Definition (HD) or Ultra High-Definition (UHD) video experiences. In this respect, Singtel has always been a frontrunner in the consumer NS domain and has offered highly innovative solutions. An example would be during the Singapore Grand Prix 2022 where Singtel deployed 5G NS technology to create a dedicated slice of its network that was reserved for subscribers of Sports Plus on Singtel’s app marketplace, CAST, enabling subscribers to enjoy seamless video streaming of the Formula 1 race even in congested areas along the race circuit. In the enterprise space, 5G NS deployments have also been largely restricted to niche enterprise use cases, such as in the logistics, healthcare, and public security sectors, where dedicated bandwidths and guaranteed low latencies were key selling points of the technology.

However, despite the various innovations, CSPs have struggled to find key 5G NS service offerings that can generate large volumes of transactions to ensure healthy revenue streams. Singtel’s introduction of its SECaaS could be a potential game changer, as it expands the reach/scope of NS services—beyond niche use cases—to be relevant for the general consumer and for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) keen to deploy a managed cybersecurity security solution for mobile and/or IoT devices, creating a new lucrative market for 5G NS. In an environment where cybersecurity concerns and risks are growing, the development and enhancement of SECaaS could be a possible key driving force for the growth of 5G NS for both consumer and enterprise markets.

What Are the Possible Go-to-Market Strategies?


While a lot of excitement surrounding 5G NS technology revolves around developing niche or exclusive enterprise applications, the general consumer and the SME customer—a large proportion of a CSP’s customer base—remain key target markets for CSPs to drive the volume of 5G NS service subscriptions and revenue. CSPs should continue to identify the needs of the general consumer market and work closely with equipment vendors and solution providers to develop new 5G NS solutions to address those needs. An interesting development in this area is the introduction of slicing software and solutions to enable dynamic slice selection by the end-user device. A prominent case example would be the recent demonstration conducted by Ericsson, Intel, and Microsoft in February 2023, which showed how a single device could automatically select different network slices based on the application that it was running. That development presents CSPs with an opportunity to further monetize their 5G networks by offering specific slices across their networks to support different applications, such as gaming, video conferencing, or even IoT applications, and create greater value for their customers.

For go-to-market strategies, CSPs could either offer a general 5G NS service—similar to Singtel’s SECaaS—to drive volume, or highly-customized solutions tailored for specific enterprise use cases/applications. To maximize Return on Investment (ROI), a multi-pronged approach would be ideal, offering general 5G NS services concurrently with highly-customized 5G NS solutions, enabling CSPs to simultaneously go for breadth (high volume) and depth (high value) for quick turnarounds of ROI. However, with limited capital and large investments already made in 5G infrastructure deployments, it may be more prudent for CSPs to adopt a phased approach and to consider the conditions and demand for the different 5G NS service offerings in their respective markets before deciding on the best option to take.