Show & Tell—How Singapore’s Telcos Drive 5G Enterprise Adoption and the Regional Ambitions

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2Q 2023 | IN-6958

This ABI Insight explores the approach that Singapore telecommunication operators are taking to drive 5G enterprise awareness and adoption. Outlining the challenges faced by the telecommunication operators today, we continue to explore the solution that telcos hope can overcome their challenges—through the Experience Centre. Finally, we dive deeper to understand what is meant for the Singapore telecommunication operators and how it will benefit them in their bid to continue growing.

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SingaporeA Leading ASEAN Country in 5G Enterprise and Its Strategy


In Southeast Asia, Singapore is one of the leading countries in terms of 5G adoption and technological advancements. My colleague wrote an earlier ABI Insight covering the market updates on Singapore’s telecommunications market. He highlighted the positive momentum for 5G enterprise in Singapore, albeit still in its infancy. There are expectations that the next growth area for telcos is in the enterprise space and the arrival of 5G will further propel that.

Yet, for the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) adopting new technologies, there needs to be positive monetary impacts in the top line or bottom line. Coupled with the 5G Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC), telcos are ready to tackle challenges in enterprise digital transformations. But for telcos, even when executives in companies understand what 5G is, they aren’t likely to know what exactly they can use it for. This means that the telecommunication operators and their solution partners need to bridge the gap and reach the shores of the enterprises. This is where showcases and exhibitions like the StarHub Digital Experience Centre come in play.

Overcoming Digitalization with the Power of 5G and Showcases


To help realize this growth and move beyond the infancy stage, Singapore telecommunication operators have taken it upon themselves, with their partners, to explore new ideas and further drive adoption of 5G by enterprises. Security, pharmaceutical, and maritime are industries where telcos have trialed and demonstrated what is possible with the power of 5G and digitalization. Among the various industries, retail is one in which two of the three telcos, Singtel and StarHub, have interest. Both telcos have launched their 5G smart retail showcases to educate enterprises and showcase the use cases applicable for the retail industry.

The StarHub 5G Digital Experience Centre demonstrated the value that telcos bring to retailers. For example, it shows how connectivity and technology can transform the retail front end to enhance productivity and efficiency. Aside from productivity, 5G-enabled solutions, such as Extended Reality (XR), can greatly improve the customer experience. For example, in fashion and apparel stores, the fitting rooms area is often an operational challenge where customers’ waiting times can increase exponentially during peak hours, thus undermining the overall customer experience. Smart Mirrors’ solution with Augmented Reality (AR) capabilities can transform the customer journey and enhance the overall experience. Instead of spending time in line, customers can interact with the smart mirrors to check out the fit of the apparel and identify alternative products. Telcos also have the unique position of being a trusted party with consumers/subscribers, giving telcos a competitive advantage in terms of understanding and profiling of consumers. Telcos can provide enhanced capabilities in data analytics, consumer understanding, and targeted marketing, driving increased productivity by augmenting technology with manpower.

Singapore Is a Small Market, So What's in It for Singapore Telcos?


When it comes to technology adoption, there are also barriers like cost considerations and workflow changes, among others. With the consumer market saturating in terms of revenue for telcos, tackling the enterprise segment has become paramount. Telcos need to step up and bridge the gap for the enterprises by showcasing the possibilities that 5G can enable in enterprise transformation. This is often done via trials of technology implementation and showcases, such as experience centers. But Singapore is a small market, so what could Singapore’s telcos get out of this? For Singapore’s telcos, the local market is crucial on two fronts: 1) early adopters of technology and, thus, test beds; and 2) a business-friendly environment with industry-wide support. These both enable telcos to experiment and identify use cases that could be adopted in other markets. The learnings and best practices from the local market could be exported internationally through their enterprise arms. Singapore’s telcos could also partner with other telcos to bring their expertise and learnings into those markets.

This is a sensible approach for Singapore’s telcos to adopt and leverage their unique market position. Both Singtel and StarHub have enterprise business units (NCS for Singtel, HKBN JOS and Strateq for StarHub) that are looking to expand their overseas presence. For example, NCS has expanded to China and Australia, and is looking to further grow in Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) markets, such as Thailand and the Philippines. StarHub has acquired a majority stake in HKBN JOS to expand overseas and bolster its enterprise segment’s capabilities. The retail industry is just one of the starting points for telcos to bring greater awareness of technology and dive into enterprise transformation. Many more industries can benefit from telcos’ involvement, such as smart cities, aviation, and manufacturing. StarHub not only has the retail experience center showcase, but also showcases for the construction industry and data centers. Telcos must figure out how the enterprise segment can help them achieve the next level of growth. This starts with telcos taking the first step, together with partners, to invest and explore potential in the different industries.



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