Exclusives : Analysis In Brief: SKT, Singtel to Collaborate on Next-Gen Technologies

Analysis In Brief: SKT, Singtel to Collaborate on Next-Gen Technologies

SKT and Singtel have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on building next-generation telecommunications networks. The two companies have highlighted that they will focus on a variety of fundamental building blocks for the next generation. While the MoU does go into detail on some of the technologies they will focus on, executives were keen to note that this is not only a technology programme.

Kang Jong-ryeol, SKT’s Head of ICT Infra noted that, “We aim to achieve efficient high-performance network construction, enhance network stability, and discover new network-based services.” (Italics 6GWorld’s)

Meanwhile Singtel’s Managing Director for  Networks, Tay Yeow Lian, commented that, “As a global leader in 5G technology, we’re keen to capitalise on the myriad of capabilities this technology has to offer, especially in the areas of network slicing and with the inclusion of AI. With SKT, we’re looking to not only enhance the experience of our customers but to also drive industry innovation and help us prepare for the evolution to 6G.”

The partners aim to produce a white paper on their progress in areas including network slicing and virtualisation to assist other operators going through that evolution – they note it can “Help other telcos globally to capitalise on the capabilities of 5G and to prepare for 6G.”


SKT has long been known as a pioneer in telecoms, with the Seoul winter Olympics in 2018 used as a showcase for nascent 5G capabilities. In August 2023 they released a white paper outlining what they saw as requirements for 6G, which followed a February 2023 white paper jointly between SKT and NTT DOCOMO on requirements for future 6G networks. SKT has been heavily involved with the NGMN and IOWN Global Forum, who are pioneering different elements of future telecoms.

Meanwhile Singtel has tended to be less noisy on the research side; however, in 2024 the company has been busy making moves that suggest a fairly clear and coherent strategy.

At MWC, Bill Chang, CEO of Singtel’s Digital InfraCo, was emphasising the way in which they were opening up their Paragon enterprise service – a combined offering of 5G, edge and cloud capabilities, along with a variety of third-party software designed to support specific industries – as a platform for telcos worldwide, on the principle that global companies would then only need one integration.

Meanwhile, earlier this month Tay spoke at an IEEE 6G event outlining what he sees as the fundamental pillars for a seamless transition to 6G: network slicing, virtualisation, telco APIs, orchestration, and automation/AIOps. It’s not hard to see how this combines with an investment last month into regional datacentre firm ST Telemedia Global Data Centres.


This ties in very closely with the technology areas which Singtel and SKT have highlighted as areas for collaboration in their MoU, which are AI, orchestration tools, better domain knowledge of network virtualisation, and Edge-AI infrastructure.

Perhaps the most notable thing about the MoU – and about the history of both SKT and Singtel in this regard – is that they are not talking about an air interface or spectrum. Instead the focus is principally on adapting the core and architecture of their networks to create new business opportunities. This seems to be in line with a general trend from the operator community, who are reluctant to invest in more radio infrastructure up-front without a very good reason.

Orchestration is a striking and very welcome addition to the set of crucial technology enablers. It has not been in the limelight in the way it might, but even a few years ago interviews on 6G suggested that orchestration – of services, applications, network elements and more – would be absolutely critical to the performance of future networks and networks of networks. Indeed, in environments where competition based on network coverage is limited (such as in increasingly-common shared infrastructure situations), performance based on orchestration might offer a key differentiator – whether that is through using more power-efficient algorithms or by creating a more proactive management of the user experience.

This is a very exciting development and 6GWorld will be keen to follow where this goes.

Image courtesy of Jason Goh on Pixabay




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