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StarHub-NTT Communications Signing Ceremony

1 Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It is my pleasure to be here this afternoon to witness the formation of this partnership between StarHub and NTT Communications. 2 I would like to speak on 2 things today. The first is our view of ...

Yong Ying-I, Chief Executive Officer-Designate, IDA Singapore - Speech
Singapore, 6 October 1999

1. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It is my pleasure to be here this afternoon to witness the formation of this partnership between StarHub and NTT Communications.

2.  I would like to speak on 2 things today. The first is our view of the changing environment, and why in that context we support the partnership between Starhub and NTT Communications. The second is, since we are a new statutory board, to speak a little about the directions we are taking.

Responses to Changing Global Environment

3. The info-communications industry is possibly the world's most dynamic sector today. We believe that there are a number of mega-trends apparent in the global telecommunications industry today. Amongst these, I would highlight several:

a) globalisation - we think that there may not be such a thing as a domestic-market only telecommunications business going forward. Business dynamics and technology change are making this a global business. Customers these days are global and they want their service providers to be able to meet their needs around the world. Historical geographic and legal barriers are also being overcome with technology and access to capital. Every market economy around the world is liberalising access to their telecommunications markets; the issue is how and when they will liberalise, not if they will do so. We believe that telecommunications companies in turn need to be global in footprint to be competitive players going forward. This includes telcos which previously only served their domestic markets.

b) End-to-end service provision - we think that the competition will shift from infrastructure provision and from competition between technologies, to customer service. Since infrastructure can be duplicated, good customer service, marketing and branding will become the differentiating factors. Corresponding, companies will more towards providing one-stop, end-to-end service. This includes billing, network management, and customer support. This is partly why convergence is happening, as telcos enter what was previously a distinct IT business.

c) No single company has all the knowledge or skills to go it alone - The changes in market development and consumer trends are happening at internet speed, and over an expanding field. As few companies can acquire all the necessary knowledge or skills or market coverage, they are entering into strategic alliances or M&As to gain the technical and commercial know-how and achieve end-to-end connectivity.

4. There are other key mega-trends affecting the communications sector, such as the rapid development of broadband and the rapid growth of the mobile wireless market. But the 3 trends I have described earlier are especially pertinent to today's audience and today's launch. We live in exciting times. Every other day, we read in the news of the next partnership or alliance, joint venture or merger. A good example of globalisation is BT and AT&T's recent announcement of an alliance to manage their public networks across 237 countries and another on their cellular operations to establish a mobile coverage footprint encompassing 198 GSM networks in 100 countries and 140 TDMA networks in 50 countries. On end-to-end service provision, I note that AT&T acquired IBM Global Network. As convergence takes place, non-traditional players are also entering. In August, News Corp, the world's fifth-largest media company, made a bid for Deutsche Telekom AG's entire cable-television network to expand its operations in Europe. I was fascinated by News Corp and Microsoft's competition for the TV rights to the English football league, which is a fight for valuable content.

5. Singapore is not exempt from the global megatrends, at least if we wish to succeed in our ambitions of being a major info-communications hub. Maintaining restrictions over the long-term to our own domestic market is not an answer, since our market is very small. If we do so, global businesses will pass us by. Hence, Singapore will liberalise our market over the next few years. We would like our local players to do well in this environment, which means that our companies must join the global competitive arena. Dynamic markets and international competition are vital spurs to economic growth and innovation. Successful economies and societies will be those that can adapt to the demands of such rapid change, that are flexible and creative and manage change rather than being submerged by it.

6. We thus support companies like Starhub entering global partnerships and strategic alliances to move ahead and stay competitive. The agreement that Starhub and NTT Communications have reached, to directly market NTT Communication's Arcstar brand of global end-to-end managed network services to corporate customers based in Singapore is an enlightened step in this direction. We hope that this will not be just on the local plane, but also regionally and globally.

IDAS's Mission and Strategies

7. The government is in the meantime restructuring, to provide a stronger push and better support to Singapore's efforts to become a vital global info-communications centre. The merger of Telecommunication Authority of Singapore and the National Computer Board is our attempt to have an integrated and co-ordinated approach towards policy formulation and implementation across the rapidly converging info-communications industries. The new statutory board, the Info-Communications Development Authority of Singapore (I.D.A. Singapore) will have the responsibility, and the challenge, of facilitating the rapid advent in Singapore of connectedness, anytime, anywhere, by anyone. Be it data, or voice, or images, local or international online content, be it transmitted through phone lines or any other technology platform or medium, be it received through your PC, mobile phone, PDA or TV, we hope to encourage the businesses that will make this happen to be in Singapore. By considering policy, promotion and regulation within the same entity - which is a challenge - we hope to be able to provide an integrated perspective on issues that will enable Singapore to move forward rapidly.

8. IDA is presently working on the ICT21 masterplan which we will be consulting closely with the industry on. One of our likely areas of emphasis will be how to support enterprises in our ICT industry to become world-class international players. To do so, we will attempt to put in place the necessary infrastructure, knowledge base, know-how and policy frameworks to establish a conducive environment for the ICT sector to flourish. We will also work with our companies to see how we might be able to help them grow. At the same time, we will continue to welcome strong international players like NTT to do business in Singapore.

9. I take this opportunity to wish StarHub and NTT the very best in their endeavours.

10. Thank you.