Khoong Hock Yun, Assistant Chief Executive, Infocomm Development, IDA Singapore - Opening Address Ericsson's GPRS Customer Event, Shangri-La Hotel Singapore, 16 May 2002

Khoong Hock Yun, Assistant Chief Executive, Infocomm Development, IDA Singapore - Opening Address
Ericsson's GPRS Customer Event, Shangri-La Hotel
Singapore, 16 May 2002

Mr Ragnar Back, Executive VP of Ericsson Group and President of Ericsson Asia-Pacific Ltd and Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning to you.


It gives me great pleasure to be here this morning. I would like to thank Ericsson for this opportunity to be here in the company of telco and wireless players from the region. On behalf of Singapore, I would like to extend a warm welcome to you.

[OBS Story]


I start off with this story as a light-hearted illustration that collaboration is fundamental to success, given the global challenges we all face. My presentation today will cover the following topics:

a. Firstly, I will touch on how Singapore is gearing up to meet the next wave of mobile communications, followed by
b. The various initiatives that IDA has undertaken with our industry partners to make Singapore more conducive for wireless developments; and
c. Finally, I would like to examine the need for collaboration among wireless players in Singapore as well as the region; and how we can leverage each other's strengths to build a concerted wireless Asia.


Wired With Wireless Programme

The IDA initiated wireless developments in Singapore with the launch of the Wired With Wireless programme in October 2000. The objectives were to create a vibrant wireless industry and provide a conducive environment for companies to test bed, develop and export wireless products and services out of Singapore. Focusing on developments in 3 areas, namely -- M-Commerce, Location-based Services and Wireless Multimedia, we aim to have an integrated wireline and wireless infrastructure that will promote seamless connectivity and enable a mobile lifestyle for all Singaporeans.


Singapore - Advanced Telco Market

Since the liberalization of our telecommunications market 2 years ago, Singapore has spawned a vibrant and competitive telecommunications environment with 35 facilities-based and 614 services-based operators. These operators currently offer a wide spectrum of telecommunications services, including GPRS. Over the past 5 years, we have also built a world-class broadband infrastructure that provides 99% island wide coverage. There is good regional and international connectivity to more than 30 countries with a submarine cable capacity of over 21 Terabits per second, a 400 fold increase from what we had in the year 2000.

Technology-savvy Singapore Population

Singaporeans are generally young and technology-savvy. They are always on the constant look out for the latest gadgets and technologies that will benefit them in their work and leisure lifestyle. Technology adoption is relatively high among Singaporeans, for example, we have 61% PC penetration; and 1 in 2 Singaporeans are Internet users with more than 950,000 of them surfing on broadband. Our mobile take up rate is also among the highest in the world with 3 out of 4 who are mobile phone subscribers. In March this year, a joint study by AT Kearney and the University of Cambridge cited that Singapore has the highest SMS usage in the world. Out of 5,666 cell phone users surveyed in Asia, Europe and the US, 52 per cent of cell phone users in Singapore use SMS more than once a day compared to the global average of 23 per cent.


Wired With Wireless - Major Industry Development Efforts

Let me now move on to elaborate on how some of the initiatives under the Wired With Wireless programme has helped to develop Singapore's wireless capabilities. We have quite a few initiatives in place, but I would like to just highlight 2 major efforts that had proved to be rather successful in facilitating industry developments. The 1st effort is in facilitating joint industry collaboration. This was mooted under the Pilot and Trial Hotspots (PATH) initiative where we had set aside some funds to help accelerate the development of new wireless technologies and pioneer the use of these technologies for consumers and businesses. We started off in the area of m-commerce where we had to address the need for a robust and accessible mobile payments infrastructure. The initial problem identified was that there was no consensus on the type of mobile payment solutions to be adopted and there was a lack of interoperability among the payment methods by different operators and merchants.

PATH - M-Payment Solutions CFC

To solve this problem, the IDA issued a Call for Collaboration (CFC) to the industry in May last year to submit joint proposals for the development of end-to-end Mobile Payment solutions. 4 consortia were awarded last October led by NCS, Nokia, ST Electronics and SysAtWork. As a result of this CFC, SingTel Mobile, MobileOne and StarHub Mobile have also come together in July last year to work towards the development of a common platform for mobile payments.

M-Workforce & Wireless Java Solutions CFCs

The mPayment Solutions CFC has been a useful in pulling together various players within the wireless value chain to provide integrated solutions for the end-user. With the initial success of the Mobile Payment CFC, IDA then issued 2 other CFCs for Mobile Workforce solutions as well as applications using J2ME-based wireless Java technology. This is to encourage the development of applications and services for businesses and consumers.

Wireless Mobility Showcase

26 consortia have been awarded for these 2 CFCs just yesterday at the launch of the Wireless Mobility Showcase. I would like to invite you to visit the showcase at Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza where some of the mPayment Solutions, together with many of the awarded CFCs for Mobile Workforce and Wireless Java solutions are exhibited. I noted that Ericsson is showcasing some of the mobile Internet solutions with their partners at the event.

CFC Process - Observations

With the mPayment CFC trials underway, there had been a few invaluable takeaways from these trials. For instance, some of the applications require about 6 SMS messages to be sent for each transaction. This has implications for both the operator and the consumer depending on whether the transaction was conducted over WAP or WAP on GPRS; and would mean greater need to harness GPRS for data services. Another observation made from the Mobile Workforce CFC proposals was that many of the proposals have catered for companies to tie the mobile solutions back to their existing backend system such as an ERP. In the case of sales force automation, a company benefits from on-the-spot sales closure by its sales force and real-time update to its backend system via mobile Internet.

CFC Process - Learnings

3 important considerations have consistently surfaced throughout our CFC process:
a. Firstly, the need to achieve cost-effectiveness of companies' data operations using WAP on GPRS;
b. Secondly, the need for flexibility by user companies to leverage on existing business and IT infrastructure; and
c. Thirdly, the need to increase business competitiveness using mobile Internet over the GPRS network.


Common Platform Steering Committee - Location-based Services

The 2nd effort that I want to highlight under the Wired With Wireless programme for industry development is joint government and industry collaboration. A Common Platform Steering Committee was formed to include the Location-based Services (LBS) and Wireless Java Working Groups. The LBS Working Group aims to exploit LBS for Singapore and achieve consensus on issues like types of services, interconnection, interoperability and policy framework. Some of the committee's current activities include review of competition code, data privacy, and Singapore Land Authority's transformation of Land Data Hub to ASP service. The LBS Working Group is also seeking entry into the Location Interoperability Forum (LIF) and the customization of LIF's API for Singapore. IDA is also planning for another Call for Collaboration (CFC) for LBS within this year. With this CFC, operators will need to combine elements of personalisation, time-sensitivity and location awareness as part of their mobile services offerings.

Common Platform Steering Committee - Wireless Java Working Group

Next, the Wireless Java Working Group participated at global standard bodies such as the Java Community Process, 3GPP, etc., to catalyse the adoption and awareness of J2ME among the Singapore mobile operators, content providers and developers. The Working Group eventually aims to deliver a framework for Over-the-Air (OTA) provisioning of J2ME applications such as m-Commerce as well as content publishing in Singapore. This would include identifying standards for the billing infrastructure as well as distribution of MIDlet suites over different OEM APIs for Java-enabled phones by different manufacturers. Although version 2.0 of MIDP has recently been published, the working group has recommended for it to stabilize before adoption of its standards.


Wired With Wireless - Seamlessly

Our next step for Singapore or IDA will be to facilitate the integration of applications, platforms and devices to provide seamless connectivity for everyone on the go, anywhere, any time, and on any device. IDA has just completed our Pervasive Wireless Access CFC last week. We will soon be able to determine how to effectively leverage the use of bluetooth, infrared, 802.11 and in the future, 3G, to enhance the mobile lifestyle for Singaporeans.

Singapore - A Living Lab

With an advanced infrastructure; a vibrant telecommunications market and a ready base of sophisticated consumers, Singapore is in a good position to provide a test bed environment for companies to pilot new wireless products and services before a full commercial roll out. Our compact population also allows for faster feedback for pilot projects in Singapore prior to mass deployment. Our multi-racial, English-speaking community also makes Singapore a good reference market for Asia that houses more than half the world's population.


Asia - Opportunities Abound

With Asia fast emerging as a key mobile Internet player, the challenge for Asian operators is to transform high-tech ideas to everyday services that enhance consumer lifestyle at home and at play; as well as optimize performance in businesses. This will go towards creating rich new revenue streams for the wireless industry and attracting major developments and marketing into Asia.

Collaborate - in Singapore and Beyond

With Ericsson Cyberlab as PATH Assessment Centre the establishment of Ericsson's Mobile Internet Centre in Singapore, regional telcos and Singapore developers can look forward to creating a win-win through the pilot projects and deployment experience cultivated at these Ericsson's facilities. I would like to share with you 3 key factors in any collaborative effort:

  • Firstly, differences can add depth;
  • Secondly, create strength by the unique value proposition each party brings; and
  • Finally, where necessary, broaden the alliance to bring balance to its outlook. In a concerted wireless Asia, a symbiotic relationship exists where the population as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

As the Singapore industry has benefited from joint collaboration, I strongly urge regional telco players to explore how they can work with developers and technology providers to sustain competitive advantage for Asia as a whole. Likewise, we can also work together as in the Wireless Java Work Group to take the lead in setting standards and guidelines for the region.

Thank you

Finally, Singapore welcomes your participation and with this, I thank you.

Last updated on: 13 Mar 2023