Lim Swee Say, Acting Minister for Environment and Minister of State for Communications & Information Technology - Speech Fast-Track Seminar, Suntec Singapore

Lim Swee Say, Acting Minister for Environment and Minister of State for Communications & Information Technology - Speech Fast-Track Seminar, Suntec Singapore

Singapore, 26 April 2001

Good morning
Distinguished guests
Ladies and gentlemen

We live in a fast changing world, a world of "what's hot, what' s not".

For example, 3G was really hot not too long ago. Today, it is not. Will it get hot again in the future? I am sure it will. When will that be? Who knows?

How should we go about managing change in this fast changing world?

Speculators in the stock market can buy one moment, and sell the next.

Market analysts and journalists can sing praise one moment, and pour cold water the next.

But as a development agency, IDA cannot and does not just chase after the flavour of the day. It analyzes global trends in technology and markets, sets its sight on future "mainstream" technologies and services, and puts in sustained efforts to nurture the growth of the industry.

Along the way, there will be ups and downs. When it is up, it presses on to speed up the pace of development. When it is down, it presses on even harder to ensure that momentum is not lost.

It is a challenging process. It is also a rewarding process. By investing in today, while setting our sights at tomorrow, we pave the way for sustainable growth, not withstanding the ups and downs in the marketplace.

The development of Broadband is a case in point.

We started investing in broadband infrastructure and services way back in 1997. Under a strong private-public sector partnership, we made steady progress, year after year.

At the last Fast Track Seminar held in September last year, I outlined our three major thrusts in broadband development.
These are: to speed up the pace of innovation; to broaden the base of adoption; and to foster greater collaboration in the Asia Pacific.

Today, I am happy to say that we continue to make good progress in these areas of development.

Development of Broadband in Singapore

In Singapore, the number of broadband users has exceeded 300,000. We believe it will reach or even exceed 400,000 by the end of the year.

To further increase broadband penetration in Singapore, the IDA has set aside $30 million to speed up the pace of innovation and adoption of broadband applications and services at HOME, WORK and LEARNING.

For the "Home" Environment Initiative, we aim to increase the co-licensing and development of high quality broadband content and services to home users. We will facilitate the trials of convergent products and services for home use, including home networking, Small Office Home Office (SOHO) and other new media devices, to make full use of the broadband infrastructure.

For the "Work" Environment Initiative, we will encourage the development and enhancement of broadband access at the work place, such as broadband access to commercial buildings and bundling of broadband services as a business infrastructure.

We will also encourage Management Solution Providers (MSPs) and Broadband Access Service Providers to speed up the deployment of value-added services such as telecommuting, ASP services and broadband portals.

For the "Learning" Environment Initiative, we will encourage education service providers to step up the development of broadband education content. We now have 40 schools participating in the Fast Track @ School programme. We will encourage more learning institutions to adopt broadband for e-learning. This increase in demand for comprehensive e-learning content will create many more opportunities for education service providers to work together, and to jointly expand into the region more effectively.

The success of these three initiatives for the Home, Work and Learning Environments will depend on the active participation of our industry players, both local and foreign. We hope our industry players will come forward with proposals to help increase broadband penetration in all three environments.

To facilitate greater use of broadband content and services, a Broadband Channel Guide will be launched in June this year for industry players to promote their content and services.

A Broadband Industry Directory will also be published with a listing of all the broadband industry players in Singapore. This will enable companies who are interested in adopting broadband to locate the relevant service providers more easily. It can also be a useful reference for broadband players to find complementary business partners.

We hope that more users and businesses will explore the potential, and possibilities that Broadband can bring.

Regional Collaboration In Broadband Development

Beyond Singapore, our efforts in fostering greater collaboration in the Asia Pacific have also been fruitful.

There is no question at all that broadband has taken off in some cities in Asia. We aim to contribute to the growth, and participate actively in this growing market.

With FBOs like Singtel, Starhub, Asia Global Crossing and Worldcom, Singapore aims to remain one of the most connected cities in Asia.

Internet Data Centres like iSTT, Global Switch and Pacific Internet have also set up points-of-presence in the region; while Content Delivery Networks like Mirror Image Internet, Madge.Web and Speedera will allow broadband services to reach various corners of Asia.

Many of the service providers on Singapore ONE are reaching out to regional and international markets too. These include regional and international players like Pentamedia, GigaMedia, M&E China, Asia I-Want-in, InnovaTV, PlanetMG, SoundBuzz, Pandora and Viva Music, to name a few.

They are among the pioneers in multi-city broadband services in Asia. I applaud them for their enterprising spirits, and I am pleased to see Singapore ONE serving its role as a launching pad in Asia.

We will continue to support these companies and their efforts through incentive schemes, such as the International Content Hosting Scheme with six hosting facilities offering regional reach.

Besides infra-structural support, we will also need to address cultural, language and other soft issues. This is why the IDA supported a pilot scheme known as "FastAsia" for some of the Singapore ONE partners to address issues relating to localization, re-purposing, packaging, marketing and distribution agreements across Asia.

Today, this pilot has achieved an initial reach to about 4 million broadband users in Singapore, Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong. With this initial effort, we hope our industry partners will continue to develop new markets, and resolve some of the challenges faced in the rolling out of pan-Asia broadband services.

Looking ahead, by adopting a broader perspective, we can build on this pilot and align Fast-Asia with the broader vision of the "Asian IT Belt". We could strengthen the broadband foundation in various leading cities in Asia, and strengthen the linkages among us to serve as the backbone of the Digital Asia.

Our linkage should cover not only physical broadband connectivity, but also "softer" areas such as differences in rules and regulations, and inter-networking of applications and services.

Once established, over time, we can expect more cities and regions joining the Asian IT Belt as and when they are ready.

In conclusion, I am pleased that the development of a vibrant broadband industry in Singapore is well on track.

We have the connectivity. We also have a growing broadband industry that spans the entire value chain of content development, packaging, hosting and delivery. I thank you for your contribution towards the growth of the broadband industry here in Singapore.

We look forward to strengthening this public-private sector partnership between us, as we strive for greater heights in broadband and broader vision of an Asian IT Belt.

Thank you.

Last updated on: 13 Mar 2023