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GovTech, SLA and CAAS to trial TV whitespace connectivity to Singapore’s Southern Islands

The Singapore Land Authority (SLA), Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech) and Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) will conduct a six-month trial from August to provide low-cost, reliable and long-range wireless connectivity for data transmission using a broadcast band known as TV White Space (TVWS) on five Southern Islands – Kias Island, St John’s Island, Pulau Seringat, Pulau Hantu Besar and Kusu Island. This trial is part of the Smart Nation Sensor Platform project. 

2        TVWS is a radio spectrum in TV broadcast bands, commonly used for broadcasting analogue signals.  It is less affected by externalities like sea waves, weather conditions and obstacles (e.g. ships). In Singapore, TVWS is under-used, and therefore, can be exploited to provide low-cost, reliable and long-range wireless connectivity for data transmission.  

3        In this trial, agencies will work with a Singapore start-up, Whizpace, to explore the use of TVWS connectivity to support sensor and Internet of Things (IoT) deployments on these Southern Islands.  TVWS will be used to provide long-distance wireless connectivity across the sea to various islands about 10km away and monitored for robustness. It will be used to connect and control Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) flight(s) over some of the southern islands. TVWS’s effectiveness in transmitting high-quality video data from the UAV in near real-time will also be tested. This follows an earlier trial by CAAS to link ground closed-circuit TV video footage from Lazarus Island back to the mainland. Singapore is the first country in the region to test drone flights with TVWS connectivity.

4        Thong Wai Lin, Assistant Chief Executive (Land Operations), SLA said: “SLA manages some 11,000 ha of State land and uses UAV, sensors and IoT applications for a more efficient and effective management of State land. However, intermittent and poor connectivity in the Southern Islands has hampered the deployment of such technology. TVWS could provide the network connectivity enabling the use of these devices in the Southern Islands to improve our maintenance regime and raise productivity.”

5        Lim Chinn Hwa, Senior Director (Smart Nation Platform Solutions), GovTech, said: “TVWS can potentially be an affordable and reliable solution to enable technologies such as sensors, IoT and robotics to be deployed in areas of Singapore with limited 4G and Wi-Fi coverage. With this trial in the Southern Islands, GovTech hopes to expand public agencies’ situational awareness in operational and urban planning, bringing about improved manpower efficiency. This is an example of how the Public Service is always innovating to serve citizens and businesses better through technology.”

6        Tan Kah Han, Senior Director (Safety Regulation Group), CAAS, said: “CAAS supports the exploration of TVWS to better improve connectivity, thereby expanding the potential of deploying UAS applications such as coastal or island surveillance and shore-to-ship operations.”

7        Besides enabling island maintenance and inspections, TVWS could also potentially provide internet network connectivity for island visitors to St John’s and Kusu Islands, such as students and devotees, bringing about a more pleasurable experience. 

Issued by:

Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech)
Singapore Land Authority (SLA)
Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) 

29 August 2019