Singapore operator Singtel has introduced a portable 5G platform called Genie. Genie is designed to enable enterprises to access 5G capabilities and trial use cases on their own premises. Without the need for prior installation of equipment or infrastructure, Genie is designed to create an independent 5G network at any location where it is deployed and is suitable for enterprises that want to conduct trials but do not yet have a 5G network.
Genie can also be used to run short-term events such as hackathons that require a temporary 5G network. Designed to be compact and transportable, Genie comes in a suitcase-sized container consisting of a 5G network control kit and a standing mount with 5G radio antenna. It can be installed under an hour and requires only a standard electrical outlet to power and access to a window for the platform to determine its location via Global Positioning System, Singtel also said.
The platform also enables customers to host and deploy their apps on Genie and connect their devices to the apps using its 5G network without relying on the internet. This is expected to reduce leaks of sensitive information and help customers enhance data security. Genie can also allow developers and device manufacturers to validate their prototypes in their customers’ premises.
Genie is designed to work with Singtel 5G Multi-access Edge Compute (MEC) infrastructure to test applications indoors.
Singtel’s 5G network in a suitcase sounds a bit science-fictional or perhaps like something from a spy thriller. However, it is quite real and seems to be an excellent and creative way to accomplish three things: (1) Sell enterprises on the idea of getting their own bespoke 5G internal network designed and built by Singtel; (2) Sell enterprises on the idea of 5G itself, with the expectation that they will become business customers of Singtel’s ordinary 5G service; and (3) derive revenue directly from selling the Genie solution to companies that wish to use it to run special events or provide a special degree of privacy for discrete purposes. Genie can be characterized as both a marketing tool and a special-purpose piece of technology.
Since 5G is new and its speed promises are not always fully tested in real-world applications, and because use of the network requires investment in new mobile devices and potentially other devices, companies that could benefit from it may be unwilling to take the leap. Singtel’s Genie, being portable and quick to install, should have quite a persuasive effect on companies who can trial its capabilities with relatively little risk. For those companies that are interested in a custom-built, local network, Genie can give them some of what they need in the short run, while making it more likely that they will make the larger investment in future. For those enterprises that only need to provide a high-speed network on isolated occasions, Genie could be a long-term solution, and the same goes for those that need it for security purposes only, to essentially create an intranet.
Finally, it appears that the Genie solution could be an excellent one for companies that wish to trial certain IoT applications that need 5G to operate—for example, robotics and real-time monitoring and control systems.