Speech by Mr Lam Chuan Leong, Chairman, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore At The S-ONE Commemodative Event and E-Celebrations 2002 Launch
Speech by Mr Lam Chuan Leong, Chairman, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore At the S-ONE Commemodative Event and E-Celebrations 2002 Launch
Singapore, 11 April 2002
Good evening Distinguished Guests
Members of the media
Ladies and Gentlemen
1. A couple of days ago, someone commented to me that broadband take-up does not seem like what it should be. I replied that he should wait another 2 days and he may be surprised.
2. Of the many things that IDA staff look at, one statistic, one number, is watched with very close attention within IDA. That is the number of broadband users in Singapore. The latest report took me by surprise. It reported that we now have 950,000 broadband users! This is no figure plucked out of the air. It is derived from a survey conducted by a professional survey firm. A sample of 3,000 was taken and studied closely. Half of the broadband users are business users and half are home users. 92% of them use broadband for at least 2 days a week.
3. Why does IDA watch this figure so carefully and what is its significance of this number?
4. It is one of IDA's aim to bring broadband access to everyone in Singapore, at home, in school and in the office. So in 1998, the Singapore ONE initiative was launched by PM Goh Chok Tong. This initiative is a joint industry and government effort to roll out a nationwide broadband information infrastructure as well as develop interactive multimedia applications and services to be delivered over the network.
5. To recap, the objectives for the Singapore ONE initiative are:
a. To expedite and deliver the benefits of broadband services to everyone.
b. To nurture a vibrant multimedia industry, and
c. To position Singapore as the place for innovation and leadership in broadband exploitation.
6. PM then set a target of 400,000 broadband users to be reached by end 2001. That is the reason why the number has been watched with such intense interest. That is why we are so pleased to note that we have surpassed that target; not by a small margin but nearly 140% over, with 950,000 users on broadband as at November 2001. It also means that broadband has come of age in Singapore.
7. Many organisations and agencies helped to achieve this target. Tonight's occasion is to thank them for their contributions. The Singapore ONE initiative was a collaborative effort amongst the then NCB, TAS, NSTB, EDB and SBA. NCB drove the development of multimedia broadband applications and the deployment of information appliances; TAS planned and supported the deployment of the physical broadband infrastructure; NSTB facilitated broadband R&D for technology development; EDB attracted overseas companies and investment as well as promoted the Singapore ONE effort; whilst SBA helped encourage the broadcasters and other content providers to develop content for the broadband medium. Other organisations played their part as well. 1-Net provided the core ATM backbone that created a neutral platform for the delivery of broadband applications and services. SingTel and SCV provided the access network and user management systems.
8. We also like to thank all the broadband pioneers who had put their faith in us during the initial pilot phase. These included the National Library, some 20 schools, 10 Community Centres, 30 MNCs, 50 local companies and over 20 technology and equipment providers. Today, we will be commending 15 of those long-standing partners who have commercialised their services and stayed with us since the beginning.
9. So, what is the significance of saying that the broadband era has come of age?
10. It is not too long ago that the most we had was 56kbps dial-up. It is hard to imagine how we could have endured those speeds. To download a 1 MB software patch would require some 20 to 30 minutes. Downloading drivers, files, sales brochures, etc would be agonising indeed.
11. Businesses have made broadband an essential marketing tool. Those flashing, attractive, eye-catching product demonstrations on their web sites work best only with broadband. To stay relevant in the cluttered market place today, companies have to harness broadband to catch customer attention. Intra-business information sharing and data communications are also dependent on broadband.
12. But broadband has spread beyond power-PC users or businesses. Increasingly, broadband has found its way into homes and schools.
13. In the home, our surveys revealed that 52% use broadband to read the news or watch news webcast; 45% to download music; and about one in three play online games . So broadband has entered our daily lives.
14. In the schools, IDA worked together with 42 schools and 18 education service providers, under the Fast Track@School programme to develop interactive and multimedia content. The objective was to leverage on broadband to enhance the teaching and learning experience. One of the schools, River Valley High, set up a "Virtual Physics Laboratory" where students can experiment with complex and expensive laboratory equipment such as the cathode ray oscilloscope (CRO). Schools usually have only 2 units and students had to queue to use it. With the virtual CRO online, all the students are able to try out simultaneously as well as record and analyse the results immediately.
15. The growth of broadband in Singapore for the past five years has spawn a vibrant multimedia industry. There are currently over 300 companies in the interactive multimedia industry from access provision, content creation to aggregation, hosting and delivery.
16. We started in 1998 with two broadband access providers. Now we have 12. Prices of broadband access have dropped 5 times over the last two years. This morning, Powerline Communications embarked on a market trial for broadband access using electric powerlines. That is another form of broadband access which is "always on" and is convenient because no hacking of walls is needed to install cables; any power point in the home or office can be a broadband access point.
17. Going forward, we will focus our efforts in four areas:
a. To stimulate the development of innovative applications and services for the home and the community.
b. To accelerate the adoption of broadband for businesses.
c. To heighten consumer awareness and adoption of broadband services.
d. To grow the competitiveness of the broadband industry.
18. For the home and the community, I am pleased to announce IDA's Connected Homes Programme. The programme will provide a test bed environment for the industry to develop, pilot and deploy innovative end-to-end solutions within the home, to and from the home and within the community. It comprises of two thrusts:
a. The first being "Connecting the Homes" where a suite of home-networking solutions connecting intelligent home appliances and communications devices will be developed.
b. The second thrust will be "Connecting the Community" where a range of services will be developed to connect various aspects of the community from health providers to schools, community groups and businesses.
19. A sum of $15.7million has been set aside for the next two years to support the implementation of pilots and trials by the industry within these two thrusts.
20. On Apr 25th , IDA will make Call for Collaboration for industry players for the first thrust of the programme. We look forward to joint proposals of integrated solutions for the home from the industry.
21. For businesses, IDA will work with specific sectors to help accelerate the use of broadband . Initial efforts have been made with the media industry where IDA is working together with the Singapore Film Commission to encourage the creation of digital films which will be screened both in the theatres and online. We are working with the legal sector to facilitate the implementation of multi-party video conferencing over broadband between the Subordinate Courts, Supreme Court, Attorney-General Chambers and legal firms. This will eventually be extended to other organisations within the legal sector.
22. To generate more public awareness on the benefits of broadband, we are launching tonight the e-Celebrations campaign. Through it, we want to build an e-Inclusive Society where every Singaporean, from all walks of life, will get to enjoy the benefits brought about by technology and Infocomm literacy.
23. This year, e-Celebrations will be a 52-week extravaganza that will encourage everyone in the family to take charge of their e-lifestyle. e-Celebrations 2002 will kick off with Broadband Month to celebrate 5 years of broadband in Singapore and pave the way for consumers to discover the delight of becoming connected, the Broadband way.
24. The Broadband month starting this evening and running through April will have a host of activities including the screening of Digital Films during the Singapore Film Festival, a conference for businesses organised by the Broadband Media Association. After April, there will be by Infocomm Learning Month, Multilingual Internet Month, e-Games Month and Wireless Month.
25. So Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for contributing to the wonderful achievement of 950,000 broadband users in Singapore. With that we have entered the broadband era. This is a very important milestone because broadband is a defining technology of our age. It is the benchmark of a developed economy just as good roads and highways are indicators of a reasonably advanced economy. In the future, no nation can claim to be of developed status without good broadband access, the highways of the Information Age.
26. Of course, there is still room for further growth. We must not rest on our laurels, however hard-won. We should co-operate and raise that number even higher.
27. Meanwhile, it is my pleasure to declare the start of e-celebrations 2002 with the Broadband Month.
28. Thank you.