24 March 2014 - Speech by Mr Leong Keng Thai, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Director-General (Telecoms & Post), Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, and Chairman of SGNIC, at the 49th Public Meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), 24 March 2014, Raffles City Convention Centre.
Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister of Communications and Information,
Dr Stephen Crocker, Chairman of the ICANN Board
Mr Fadi Chehadé, President and CEO of ICANN
Ladies and Gentlemen
Enhancing Greater Access to the Internet
1. The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore’s mission as an organisation is to grow Singapore into a dynamic global ICT hub and enable Singapore to leverage on ICT for economic and social development. As a regulator, IDA ensures that internet is accessible to all, our networks are resilient, and that consumers enjoy a high quality of service. This is achieved by pro-actively reviewing our policy and regulatory frameworks to ensure there is healthy competition amongst providers, infrastructure deployed are amongst the best globally and the use of the internet is pervasive to everyone in all aspects of life.
2. According to Boston Consulting Group’s report on "Greasing the Wheels of the Internet Economy"1, which was commissioned by ICANN, there are four types of friction that prevent countries from realising the internet’s full benefits. They are infrastructure-related friction, industry-related friction, individual friction and information-related friction. Greatest significance was attributed to infrastructure-related friction in the report.
3. On this front, Singapore has invested heavily in the past decade to enhance ourselves as a hub of Asia for internet connectivity, with an extensive network of submarine cable systems connecting us to all the key global markets. Within Singapore, our Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network (or Next Gen NBN) which is our Fibre-to-the-home rollout completed last year, offers ultra high speed fibre broadband connectivity of up to 1 Gigabit per second to over 95% of homes and businesses. The competition amongst retail service providers has brought the price of 1 Gigabits per second to less than US$40 per month for the consumer. Such an infrastructure is essential as it supports the development and delivery of innovative digital services to homes, schools and businesses. For businesses, the high speed fibre network will lower connectivity charges for data centres and boost throughput. As a result of our connectivity to the world, Singapore is host to some 7,000 multi-national companies who use Singapore as a hub to support their expansion plans in Asia.
Singapore Aims to Become a Smart Nation through the Use of Data and Analytics4. Looking ahead, having good ICT infrastructure is almost taken as a given and is foundational for an economy. What has become the new significance, I believe, is how countries use data, make sense of data and apply them to new possibilities. Many jurisdictions have named this capability Smart Cities. For Singapore, being a city state, our ambition is to be a Smart Nation. For this to happen, we must now invest in new fields like data and analytics, and to formulate policies that enable machine-to-machine interaction and the internet-of-things. This also requires new skills and new talents which are not only hard to come by but takes time to educate. We have to start. In June last year, a memorandum of intent with Palo Alto Networks was signed to establish the PAN Innovation Centre and grow the pool of information security professionals needed to support a data analytics hub. In addition, IDA has partnered Google on the “Squared Data Programme” this year, which provides training to aspiring analytics professionals. Other initiatives have also been undertaken by IDA to develop Singapore’s data capabilities, including releasing government data sets to encourage the public and the industry to capitalise on the numerous opportunities that data has to offer. A portal called data.gov.sg, was developed in 2012 where more than 8,700 publicly-available datasets from over 60 public agencies are made available to the public to create applications or conduct research.
A Multi-Stakeholder Approach is Necessary for Internet Governance5. In a world where the internet is the backbone for economic activity, for leisure, for information and for better quality of life, ICANN has such an important role to play to ensure that the internet continues to work and to provide. To this end, ICANN must continue working on global internet policies and governance through its multi-stakeholder approach where governments, industry and civil society work together to shape the development of the internet. The ICANN Strategy Panels encapsulate this approach, and will serve as an integral part of a framework for cross-community dialogue, to solve such global issues.
6. We have already seen success from such a multi-stakeholder approach in the development of ICANN’s new gTLD Programme, which came to fruition after many years of hard work. This involved several groupings collaborating and working together painstakingly and tirelessly. We also had the GAC2 providing its inputs to the whole process. I still remember the ICANN Board giving its approval to the programme right here in Singapore back in June 2011. It is heartening to see that right now several gTLDs have been launched, with some others coming.
7. Similarly, the upcoming Net Mundial meeting in Sao Paolo in April will bring together a wide range of government, business, technical, community, civil society and academic participants from around the world who will be discussing Internet Governance principles as well as proposing a roadmap for the further evolution of the Internet Governance ecosystem. Governments, as one key stakeholder, will have to develop and implement policies that continue to ensure high availability of access to a safe and secure Internet.
8. Singapore believes in the multi-stakeholder approach, given the breadth and expanse of Internet Governance. We therefore welcome the recent announcement by the United States Department of Commerce’s NTIA (National Telecommunications & Information Administration) to launch a process to transit and transfer stewardship of its internet responsibilities to a global community. These responsibilities include administering changes to the Domain Name System’s authoritative root zone file as well as serving as the steward for the registries for Domain names and IP addresses. This is a milestone in the development of the Internet and the discussions at this meeting in Singapore will be critical to the way ahead. I am sure the discussions will be highly engaging and will bring about innovative proposals to consider. We look forward to working with the global Internet community on this in the week ahead.
9. Thank you.
Notes to Editor
1 The Connected World, Greasing the Wheels of the Economy", Boston Consulting Group, 27 Jan 2014 https://www.icann.org/en/news/presentations/bcg-internet-economy-27jan14-en.pdf
2 Acronyms are (1) gTLD – Generic Top Level Domain Names; (2) GAC – Governmental Advisory Committee