18 June 2008 - Speech By RADM(NS) Ronnie Tay, Chief Executive Officer, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore At The iN2015 Business Forum, Suntec Singapore

Speech By RADM(NS) Ronnie Tay, Chief Executive Officer, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore At The iN2015 Business Forum, Suntec Singapore, 18 June 2008, 10am

Mr Pek Yew Chai, Chairman SiTF
Members of the Infocomm industry

1. At this time of the year in 2006, IDA together with industry launched the Intelligent Nation 2015 or iN2015 masterplan to make Singapore an Intelligent Nation, A Global City, Powered by Infocomm. The goals set out may be considered "aggressive" by many but over the past two years, we have made significant progress towards achieving those goals that we set out for ourselves and industry.

Infocomm Industry Continues to Grow

2. At the opening ceremony of imbX yesterday, Minister for Information, Communication & The Arts said that the infocomm industry did well last year. The Annual Survey on Infocomm Industry for 2007 conducted by IDA showed that the industry registered a double-digit growth of 13.8 per cent in revenue to reach S$51.68 billion.

3. The latest Infocomm Manpower Survey also showed that the infocomm employment rate achieved a new high, growing by 8.9 per cent. Despite the uncertain global economic outlook, the indications for the infocomm industry are relatively positive.

Laying the Foundation for Innovative Services

4. In the last 12 months, we have done much groundwork to lay the foundation of and future-proof our infrastructure. IDA believes that a Next Generation National Infocomm Infrastructure is key to Singapore's continued economic success. Singapore has always made timely and carefully planned investments in our key economic infrastructure to sustain our economic competitiveness in the global economy. We therefore envisioned in our iN2015 masterplan, a Next Generation wired and wireless network that will spur a flourish of innovative services that everyone can enjoy.

5. As you may know, the national Wi-Fi network, Wireless@SG, launched in December 2006, has successfully met its roll-out target of 5,000 hotspots since last September. Today, more than 7,200 hotspots are available throughout the country, and some 850,000 people so far have registered to use it. Wireless@SG is helping to transform the way we live, learn, work and play. It is common to see people accessing the network today at public places like cafes, food courts and community clubs, to work, check e-mails, or even do their Internet banking. Businesses can also leverage this network for greater efficiencies, such as through the use of wireless point-of-sale devices.

6. Concurrently, the Next Generation National Broadband Network or Next Gen NBN is being developed. When ready in 2015, consumers and businesses can expect to see a more vibrant and competitive broadband market emerging with a myriad of Next Generation services being offered. In the third quarter of this year, we are scheduled to appoint the Network Company or NetCo to design, build and operate the passive infrastructure of the Next Gen NBN. The Operating Company or OpCo that will design, build and operate the active infrastructure will be decided on early next year.

7. In order for Next Gen NBN to catalyse the development of a more vibrant and competitive broadband market, it is critical for the Next Gen NBN to ensure effective Open Access to the infrastructure by downstream operators such as the Retail Service Providers or RSPs. As a policy, we have therefore decided to adopt separation between the different levels of the Next Gen NBN to achieve effective Open Access. The emphasis on separation between the infrastructure layers reflects our view that Singapore can more fully realise the economic benefits of this investment if RSPs are able to obtain wholesale bandwidth connectivity from a Next Gen NBN OpCo at non-discriminatory prices and conditions, and likewise that the NetCo is a neutral player providing passive infrastructure to all. This industry structure in turn should support the development of a vibrant RSP industry and result in more competitive prices to end-users.

8. As early as 2010, Singapore can begin to enjoy a host of Next Gen services. I urge the industry to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by the Next Gen NBN to bring innovative services to consumers. Here's a look at some of the possibilities.

9. Our new infrastructure will also better position Singapore as a hub for the aggregation and distribution of digital media assets. Yesterday, IDA launched the Digital Marketplace Programme. This programme aims to develop a trusted and conducive environment for digital media and entertainment businesses to hub, manage, distribute and trade digital media assets such as libraries of movies, video programmes, music and mobile content through and from Singapore. IDA will be working with industry to jointly develop a robust framework of best practices and technical standards guidelines, as well as to forge international business opportunities for Singapore's Digital Marketplace.

10. Another area to grow the Digital Media and Entertainment industry is the development and distribution of Connected Games which was also launched yesterday. New emerging technologies are catalysing the development of increasingly interactive experiences for online games that cut across demographic profiles and geographic boundaries. In Singapore, we would like to build a regional hub for games developers to deploy their products to the global market, as well as build an ecosystem to accelerate the development of Connected Games.

11. We envision a thriving ecosystem comprising a community of talented developers with access to games engines, technologies, tools and shared facilities. With the Next Gen ultra-high speed broadband infrastructure being put in place, Singapore is most suited to become a regional hub for games management and distribution.

12. In addition to more bandwidth and faster speed, businesses can look forward to enjoying high performance computing, storage and software facilities without the usual hefty investments. Yesterday, IDA announced the appointment of three consortia to be the National Grid Service Providers. The consortia led by Singapore Computer Systems, New Media Express and PTC System respectively will offer commercial services by the end of the year. Businesses can use the National Grid to develop new and innovative business models and delivery infocomm services.

13. With Grid services in place, businesses especially Small and Medium Sized Enterprises will have affordable access to infocomm services to enhance their businesses. The infocomm industry recognises that the SMEs cluster is a growth area and to accelerate the adoption of infocomm by SMEs, the industry actively participated in the Call-for-Collaboration or CFC for SME Infocomm Package that IDA issued last year. 31 proposals were received and the three companies appointed to offer the package are DP Bureau Pte Ltd, iCELL Network Pte Ltd and SingTel. SMEs can now purchase affordable infocomm solutions packaged to their needs and enjoy one-stop support from these companies. Under the package, IDA will also provide a subsidy to 5,000 SMEs that for the first time is developing a web presence for their businesses.

Improving Lives and Businesses through Infocomm

14. Let me move on now to the use of infocomm by Government, enterprises and individuals. In the latest survey on Infocomm Usage in Household and by Individuals, we noted a new trend. For the first time since the year 2000, the proportion of households with two or more computers has exceeded households with only one computer. Clearly, more people are going online, and one activity that is gaining popularity is online shopping. The proportion of Internet users who shopped online increased to 35 per cent in 2007, compared to 30 per cent the year before. They are also spending more online with 13 per cent of online shoppers spending more than S$2,000, compared to 10 per cent the year before.

15. Home computer penetration among households with school-going children increased from 88 per cent in 2006 to 92 per cent in 2007, moving us closer to our iN2015 target of seeing 100 per cent computer ownership for household with school-going children.

16. Last month, I announced that the Singapore Government will call S$1.14 billion worth of new infocomm tenders in Financial Year 2008. This investment in infocomm will enable the public sector to increase its efficiency and effectiveness of its operations, including meeting the growing expectations of businesses and citizens in their transactions with the Government. This investment is in addition to the S$1.3 billion SOEasy tender that was awarded in February 2008, to develop an agile infocomm environment for the public sector that promotes innovation and enhances productivity at work.

17. To improve the quality of healthcare and efficiency for the healthcare sector, IDA together with the Ministry of Health and The Enterprise Challenge, an initiative under the Prime Minister's Office, will be supporting seven innovative projects as part of a S$3 million CFC for the healthcare sector. The CFC brought together healthcare institutions and the infocomm industry to develop innovative healthcare services and solutions. For example, one of the projects uses wireless technologies to transmit Electrocardiogram or ECG readings from the ambulance to the A&E Department. This will enable more timely interventions for heart attack patients when they arrive at the hospital.

18. In the maritime sector, the WISEPORT initiative was launched in March this year, making Singapore the world's first mobile-WIMAX-ready seaport. WISEPORT is one of the first projects under the Infocomm@SeaPort programme. Ships can enjoy low-cost, high-bandwidth and secure wireless mobile broadband access while operating in the Port of Singapore, up to 15km from Singapore's southern coastline.

19. To encourage adoption, a WISEPORT Content and Applications CFC was issued by IDA and the Maritime and Port Authority to invite the maritime community and solution providers to develop and launch innovative content and applications to be delivered over the WISEPORT network. We received 19 proposals and from these, five consortia have been selected to develop solutions. By 2009, the maritime community can have access to up-to-date navigational information, training materials and entertainment content, all delivered electronically within 15km from Singapore's southern coastline. On the whole, more than S$5 million will be spent on the WISEPORT infrastructure and content over the next two years.

20. In the education sector, S$80 million will be spent over the next four years to build immersive learning environments for students in the Future Schools@Singapore project. Four consortia were selected to develop and deploy next-generation infocomm-enabled learning applications at the pioneer batch of five FutureSchools. These schools will lead the way for other schools in providing possible models for seamless and pervasive integration of infocomm into the curriculum and pedagogy for engaged learning. Our target is to develop up to 15 FutureSchools by 2015.

21. In the tourism sector, we completed the Digital Concierge pilot in April this year. The pilot, a joint initiative by the Singapore Tourism Board, IDA, and industry partners, was a success as more than 6,000 tourists and Singaporeans have accessed mobile services such as personalised food recommendations and maps. It also attracted the participation of retailers, F&B outlets and hotels which used this channel to offer their products and services to potential customers. Following this success, Digital Concierge has been commercialised, in line with our plan to seek industry and business participation to provide more services to consumers.

22. In the financial sector, IDA is formulating the Next Generation e-Payments Programme to spur adoption of e-payments and double the transaction value of e-payments. The programme aims to accelerate consumer and merchant adoption of e-payments, particularly in high cash-based segments such as payment for taxi rides, spending at F&B outlets and retail. More details on specific efforts to raise adoption of e-payments will be available by end 2008. In addition, IDA is working with other government agencies and the industry to exploit innovative technology such as the Near Field Communications or NFC for mobile payments. A roundtable comprising 15 representatives from government agencies and industry has been formed to formulate the framework and a set of guidelines for interoperable NFC deployment.

Infocomm Industry Shaping the Future

23. The Infocomm industry has played a significant role in shaping and transforming the various economic sectors. By being intimately involved in the various national level programmes, industry players such as our local infocomm enterprises or iLEs have gained much experience in deploying sector-wide projects. IDA introduced the Infocomm Enterprise Programme or iEP last year to help iLEs develop capabilities in the implementation and delivery of large-scale, sector-wide projects and to create new intellectual property.

24. The first project, which was awarded to HeuLab Pte Ltd, will see the implementation of a "virtual classroom" tool for schools and tertiary institutions by February 2009. The tool will enhance community-building, collaboration, and contactability for students and teachers.

25. As iLEs build up their capabilities in implementation of large-scale projects they will in turn enhance their credentials and export potential. The programme will also accelerate the development of sector-wide transformational projects to increase infocomm adoption amongst user organisations in the various sectors.

26. The iEP complements other partnership programmes such as the infocomm Local Industry Upgrading Programme or iLIUP and the Overseas Development Programme or ODP. Industry players such as the MNCs work with the iLEs to develop solutions and build up new capabilities in innovative emerging technologies quickly. They also allow iLEs to access their global marketing and distribution networks. These partnerships have helped iLEs generate their own intellectual property which they can bring to the global market.

27. Over the past three years, the Overseas Development Programme recorded a compound annual growth rate of 33.8 per cent for iLEs export revenue. This is mainly in the software and IT services industry segments. For example, Celestix Networks, a developer of managed security appliances and an ODP partner of Microsoft doubled its revenue within one year mainly through export.

28. Indeed, the Infocomm Industry Survey showed that export revenue continues to constitute a major portion of the total revenue, at 65 per cent. Last year, the export revenue grew by 15.8 per cent bringing it to S$33.56 billion.

29. The results from the survey and the fact that our iLEs continue to win overseas contracts suggest that our Infocomm industry is well-positioned to help us move closer to our iN2015 target of a three-fold increase in export revenue to S$60 billion.

30. Last year, the domestic market saw the largest growth in the IT services segment with 51.9 per cent increase. This is largely due to the increase in the provision of IT consulting services and implementation services. One possible factor could be the success Singapore has enjoyed as a shared services hub in the past year. According to Frost and Sullivan1, the Singapore's Shared Services and Outsourcing market grew 9.15 per cent from S$1.40 billion in 2006 to S$1.53 billion in 2007 across seven verticals including financial and technology sectors. The Shared Services and Outsourcing market is a big buyer of IT services. In addition, the rising trends of digital abundance, consolidation of data centres worldwide, increased business volume and enhanced user awareness of business continuity disaster recovery have caused a surge in demand for data centre services in Singapore.

31. The strong demand for data centre services has resulted in high occupancy rate of more than 90 per cent in Singapore. It has also contributed to the growth in IT services (as well as telecom services). According to IDC2, the value-added managed services market in Singapore grew 10.8 per cent from US$1.27 billion in 2006 to US$1.41 billion in 2007.

Infocomm Talent In Demand

32. In Singapore, there is a noticeable shift in employed infocomm manpower. There is increasing demand for infocomm professionals with business and management skills over and above handling technical responsibilities. Those who possess strong technical skills and industry domain knowledge will be much sought after. The next generation of infocomm professionals must also be able to create and deliver innovative products, services and solutions primed to the needs of different business environments, and drive the economic competitiveness of the industry sectors.

33. Our manpower strategies have been crafted to ensure an adequate supply of next generation infocomm manpower that is in-tune with the rest of the economic sectors. A competent manpower pool, armed with both technical IT competencies and business know-how, would better enable us to adapt nimbly to industry demands and ride on new opportunities for growth.

34. IDA and the industry will be investing S$70 million on infocomm manpower programmes to deepen the technical capabilities and enhance the global competitiveness of our infocomm talent. This will be done over the next three to five years. These programmes target infocomm talent at both the student and professional levels.

35. Industry plays a critical role in helping us identify the skills gaps and help build competencies in new growth areas. IDA looks forward to your continued support to groom and grow the capabilities of our infocomm talent.


36. In conclusion, we have been making good progress towards realising the vision set out in our iN2015 masterplan. We have only been able to do so with the co-operation and collaboration of our industry partners. IDA looks forward to your continued support as we launch and implement more programmes and initiatives. Together, let us work towards an Intelligent Nation, a Global City, Powered by Infocomm.

37. Thank you.

Notes to the Editor

1 Source: 2007 Global Shared Services and Outsourcing Study: The Advent of the Vertical Imperative, August 2007, Frost and Sullivan.

2 Source: The Business Times, Singapore Managed Services Market to Grow 8%, Page 22, 29 May 2008.

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Last updated on: 13 Mar 2023