TAS Commits $253m to Industry Development and Promotion

TAS released its 1997/98 Annual Report today, which highlights its commitment to the development and promotion of Singapore's infocommunication industry. TAS has earmarked a total of $253 million for its Industry Development

Singapore, 22 December 1998 | For Immediate Release

TAS released its 1997/98 Annual Report today, which highlights its commitment to the development and promotion of Singapore's infocommunication industry. TAS has earmarked a total of $253 million for its Industry Development Grant (IDG), which aims to develop and nurture the growth of the infocommunication industry. The IDG is a result of a consolidation of the grants administered by TAS, including the Development Grant Scheme that was launched by the Minister for Communications, Mr Mah Bow Tan on 1 April 1997.

Promotion Highlights

As part of TAS' overall mission to develop and promote Singapore's infocommunication industry at home and abroad, the IDG will fund various aspects of the industry. This includes $89 million set aside for the development and enhancement of the Singapore ONE infrastructure. The remainder of the funding will go to R&D activities in broadband network experimentation and development; establishing and enhancing Internet connectivity for Singapore; and developing and nurturing the expansion and growth of the infocommunication industry.

Singapore ONE Development

TAS drives the physical infrastructure development of Singapore ONE1 and facilitates the realisation of a cost-effective broadband infrastructure. Recognising the need to jump-start the development and deployment of the infrastructure, TAS has exercised its nurturing role by investing to build the Singapore ONE broadband infrastructure.

TAS works closely with the network operators to ensure a smooth rollout of the infrastructure. Since early 1997 when TAS first put in place the core broadband backbone network, the infrastructure development has progressed rapidly. Major milestones include network and services launch of Singapore ONE's pilot phase in June 1997, and commercial launch in June this year.

R&D Activity in Broadband Network Experimentation and Development

Together with other government agencies, TAS brings together companies to use Singapore ONE as a platform for R&D, including the development of innovative technologies, content and applications in Singapore. Through the TAS/NSTB-funded SINGAREN2 (Singapore Advanced Research and Education Network) broadband links to leading research centres in United States, Canada and Japan, local universities and research institutes are able to collaborate on broadband network experimentation.

Enhancing Internet Connectivity

Besides focusing on the national broadband infrastructure, TAS is working in conjunction with Internet Access Service Providers (IASPs) to enhance connectivity and build direct links to the region and the world for fast Internet access in a Singapore ONE environment. These direct links would help position Singapore as a leading content and traffic hub for the region.

Development Grant Scheme (DGS)

The Development Grant Scheme (DGS)3 was launched on 1 April 1997 to encourage local telecommunication industry members to upgrade network infrastructural capabilities, and enhance their technological capabilities to compete in the local and global telecommunication market. The scheme also aims to foster the strategic development of enhanced infocommunication capabilities and innovative services so as to enhance the competitiveness of Singapore as a global and regional business hub and bring benefits to consumers. In the year of review, TAS approved $13 million worth of funding under the DGS.

Regulatory Highlights

Liberalisation & Introduction of Competition

Notable highlights in the review year pertained to TAS' efforts to introduce phased and sustainable competition into the infocommunications market. Competition in the mobile communications market commenced on 1 April 1997, and consumers rapidly enjoyed the benefits of liberalisation including a wider range of products and services at competitive prices. Both mobile and paging penetration rates showed substantial increases after the market was liberalised.

Another significant liberalisation move was the tender and evaluation of the Public Basic Telecommunication Services (PBTS) and Public Cellular Mobile Telephone Services (PCMTS) licences, which will introduce additional competition in the basic and mobile services market from 1 April 2000.

Ensuring Competitive & Quality Services
In the year of review, TAS sought to ensure consumers enjoyed competitive prices and enhance Singapore's edge as an international business hub. Initiatives included waiver of the annual licence fee for all mobile communication users from 1 April 1997, saving users $23 million annually. Another move by TAS to reduce the operating costs of businesses was the substantial reduction in licence fees for express letter operators, saving them $90,000 annually. TAS also announced that mobile phone and paging operators will have their licence fees reduced from 1 April 2000.

To encourage operators to offer quality services, TAS continued to set minimum Quality of Service standards, as well as monitored operators' performance so that consumers can enjoy quality services. TAS also took action against operators who failed to meet quality standards or interfered with the effective functioning of services.

Future Plans

As TAS Chairman, Mr. Chiang Chie Foo noted in the Annual Report's Foreword, "Effective and sustainable competition must be established to benefit both consumers and maintain Singapore's competitive edge." TAS will continue to introduce phased competition into the infocommunications industry, as well as play the role of a firm and fair regulator as Singapore moves towards full liberalisation in year 2000. With the foundation of facilities-based competition installed in the basic telecommunication services market, TAS can introduce further competition into areas such as network facilities, value-added services, service provision and re-sale.

TAS will also place increasing emphasis on its industry promoter role in order to develop a vibrant infocommunications industry in Singapore. The aim will be to work towards creating the right conditions for the industry to develop and enhance Singapore's competitiveness. As put forth by Mr. Chiang, TAS will continue to review its policies and regulations to ensure the "encumbrances that restrict the industry's growth" are removed, as well as introduce new initiatives so that "our companies and Singapore remain flexible enough to compete effectively in the global marketplace".

Notes to Editor:

1. Singapore ONE (One Network for Everyone) is the world's first commercial deployment of a nation-wide broadband infocommunication network that delivers a rich variety of multimedia services to homes, schools, offices and businesses. The development of Singapore ONE from concept to reality was driven through a joint effort by government agencies. Drawing on its core competencies, TAS has promoted the deployment of state-of-the-art infocommunication infrastructure and development of strategic broadband technologies. For more information on Singapore ONE, visit www.s-one.gov.sg

2. SINGAREN is a high-speed network linking the research and education community of their counterparts worldwide. It is funded by the National Science and Technology Board (NSTB) and TAS.

3. Details on the DGS are available at the "Industry Development" section of the TAS InfoHub at www.tas.gov.sg.