Speech by Mrs Tan Ching Yee, Chief Executive Officer, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore at The IDA-Intel Wireless Hotspots & Network Interworking Initiative Media Conference & Memorandrum of Intent (MOI) Signing Ceremony, SICEC

Speech by Mrs Tan Ching Yee, Chief Executive Officer, IDA at The IDA-Intel Wireless Hotspots & Network Interworking Initiative Media Conference & Memorandrum of Intent (MOI) Signing Ceremony, SICEC

Speech by Mrs Tan Ching Yee, Chief Executive Officer, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore at The IDA-Intel Wireless Hotspots & Network Interworking Initiative Media Conference & Memorandrum of Intent (MOI) Signing Ceremony, SICEC

Mr Gerry Greeve
Vice President, Sales and Marketing Group and
General Manager, Asia Pacific Operations
Intel Corporation

Members of the media and friends

The Case for Seamless Connectivity

1. Today, we take for granted that we can place a call from a fixed line and contact anyone in the world who has a fixed line telephone.

2. Likewise, in the mobile world, we are able to call and send SMSs to friends who are subscribers of different networks. In Singapore, our 3 mobile operators have even achieved interoperability in MMS from December 2002, a world first.

3. But when we move to the world of wireless hotspots, the picture changes. Currently, it is not possible for us to have one single and seamless access for WLANs, WWANs and WANs. (My more technically yet poetically inclined colleagues would like to call this seamless connectivity among the 3Ws, where Ws stand for Wireless LAN or hotspots, Wireless WAN or mobile networks and Wide area network or fixed networks.)

4. If we want to be more ambitious and envisage a world where one could move seamlessly among wireless hotspots, mobile networks and fixed networks, that would be pipe-dream, for now.

5. The sense of liberalisation and convenience that we have enjoyed with mobile communications (WLAN or mobile telephony) are somehow incomplete because of this lack of seamless connectivity.

6. It is not just a question of inconvenience, but a hindrance to full realisation of the potential of ICT to power a knowledge economy. Imagine having to deal with emails on the laptop, SMS on mobile phone, just like having things scattered in disparate paper files. Worse, there are multiple bills and multiple vendors to deal with.

7. We hope to reach a final destination where whatever device we use (phone, laptop, PDA, combination device) and whichever network we log onto initially, it will be transparent to us. What is important is that you can get connected. An IDD or Internet user does not worry about how his call or request for URL is routed. He or she just wants to get that person, or resource on the Internet. Mobile users want that same functionality.

8. Therefore, we see this collaboration between IDA and Intel as taking a bold first step towards realising our vision of seamless connectivity.

Challenges of Wireless & Fixed Interworking

9. There are two main challenges currently impeding interoperability between wireless and fixed networks. The first challenge is a technical one, where standards, networks, platforms, solutions and technologies are not unified and interoperable. The second is a commercial challenge where it requires contractual agreements on the standards, charges and billing arrangements between commercial operators and vendors.

10. Ultimately, it is the commercial factors that will determine if we will have the right business models to incentivise industry to provide this convenience and attract users to exploit this on a mass scale. But we need to first of all demonstrate technical feasibility before even tackling the business issues. This is not a question of playing with technology for technology's sake. We are embarking on a technical study first, to break the back of a vicious cycle of technical and commercial challenges.

11. As a first step, IDA and Intel will be working jointly to address the technical challenges through a series of interworking studies and technical trials. The collaboration between IDA and Intel is timely and apt for both parties. IDA has the charter to accelerate and promote the growth of the wireless industry in Singapore. Intel has been actively pursuing developments in wireless and mobile computing through strategic investments and the development of standards and new product lines.

12. This collaboration is significant for Singapore and Asia as a whole, in that it is the first of its kind to involve participation by operators and vendors from the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. This collaboration will serve as a catalyst for interworking activities in the wider region.

Singapore - Living Lab for Wireless

13. I will leave it to Pat Gelsinger, the CTO of Intel and Gerry Greeve, Vice President of Intel Asia Pacific Operations to explain later why Intel is interested in this. I will say a few words on "Why Singapore?"

14. During a recent visit by Nicholas Negroponte, author of 'Being Digital', he pointed out an interesting point that I had not noticed before. While mobile penetration rates in the US are not high by the standards of East Asia, Americans are avid users of wireless LAN through their laptops. In comparison, East Asian economies like Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan have some of the highest mobile phone penetration rates in the world.

15. So I went to check up on some statistics. And I found that Singapore is sitting in a rather special position. We are among the top users of wireless technologies.

16. Our mobile phone penetration rate is 78.6% Mobile penetration rate taken from IDA website, Statistics on Telecom Services, Jan 2003, among the highest in this region and hence the world.

17. SMS usage is also very widespread. According to a joint study released by AT Kearney & the University of Cambridge in March 2002, 52% of the mobile phone users in Singapore use SMS more than once a day as compared to the global average of 23% Third A.T. Kearney /Judge Institute of Management 'Mobinet Index' Joint study by AT Kearney and University of Cambridge, March 2002.. (The survey covered more than 5,600 mobile phone users in Asia, Europe and the US.) According to the Gartner Group, Singapore is an 'especially aggressive' adopter of wireless technology amongst economies such as Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and New Zealand.

18. We have benefited from our early start in computerisation, about 64% of the households in Singapore own a PC and more than 23% own 2 or more computers. Comparison with other countries shows that Singapore remains relatively ahead in terms of PC ownership, surpassing Australia (56%) and US (51%)Survey on Infocomm Usage in Households, 2000, IDA. Our Changi International Airport boast one of the largest commercially available wireless broadband hubs in Asia Pacific. Notes taken from StarHub corporate newsroom (One of the Largest Wireless Broadband Hubs in Asia-Pacific Launches In One of the World's Busiest Airports - Singapore, 23 January 2003). Besides the airport, Singapore also has more than 240 hotspots island-wide Asia-Pacific Telecommunication Indicators 2002 by International Telecommunication Union (ITU), November 2002 tabulated 204 hotspots & M1 website http://www.m1.com.sg tabulated an additional 40 hotspots., an impressive figure given Singapore's size. In addition, we are one of the first countries in the world to trial, use and implement Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) in all our libraries to track the movement of library materials Notes taken from http://www.itsc.org.sg.

19. Just last week (25 Februrary 2003), IDA launched the Ultra-Wideband (UWB) Friendly zone (UFZ) in Science Park II for developers to experiment and trial new and innovative UWB designs. This effort attests to our commitment in encouraging innovation in Infocomm technology.

20. Singapore is not at the top of every league table in all wireless technologies. But it is among the top few users across a wide range of wireless technologies. This makes Singapore an ideal living lab for wireless.

21. Singapore is also an ideal launch pad into the Asia Pacific region. Since 2001, Asia Pacific has become the world's largest telecommunications market with a 36% share of the global market. Its growth has been tremendous - there were 340 million mobile subscribers in 2001 compared with just 25 million in 1995 Asia-Pacific Telecommunication Indicators 2002 by International Telecommunication Union (ITU), November 2002.. Today, there are no doubt many more subscribers, especially when China alone is adding more than 5 million new subscribers a month! "Mobile Subscribers in China 2002," BDA China Limited, http://www.bdaconnect.com/.

22. I am happy that this collaboration will build on these strong and robust foundations.

Towards Seamless Connectivity

23. Let me now provide some details on the objective and significance of this collaboration.

24. The collaboration between IDA and Intel aims to develop and promote an open and universally-accepted architecture for the interworking of both wireless and fixed networks. The objective is to accelerate the interworking between these various networks. This is done by establishing three main building blocks.

25. The first building block is to conduct an interworking study with an international group of operators and vendors. The study will help define the required steps towards the final end-to-end solution with user and deployment scenarios, technical requirements and gap analysis included. It will be a "living" study with regular updates.

25. The second building block is to conduct interoperability testing and verify the interoperability of solutions and authentication, authorization and accounting (AAA) configurations across various operators and vendors' platforms and systems. Once established, this will help to ensure that end-users get to experience a single log-on and receive a single billing.

27. The third building block is to establish a manpower development programme where lntel will be admitting and training developers and engineers from Singapore to work on related projects in its US-based labs. This will help to facilitate technology and knowledge transfers and build capabilities within the wireless industry.

28. Intel does not admit outsiders to its laboratories as a matter of course. However, in view of the importance with which it places on this collaboration, it has decided to provide this opportunity to Singapore-based engineers and developers. This is indeed a significant contribution to capability development in Singapore. Conclusion

29. IDA is excited by the possibilities opened up by this collaboration. Personally, I look forward to the day when I can ignore what communications network I am logged on to, and concentrate on using the information resources that I will have access to, including the voices and pictures of my children.

30. I wish the team success in the project.

31. Thank you.

Last updated on: 13 Mar 2023