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Launch of the Live-E.Com Website

Mr Michael Yap, Chief Executive, National Computer Board Speech - Launch of the Live-E.Com Website

Mr Michael Yap, Chief Executive, National Computer Board
Speech - Launch of the Live-E.Com Website
Singapore, 21 October 1999

Multimedia: The Next Frontier in Convergence

Good afternoon,
Mr Eddy Ho, CEO,
Ms Brendan Lai, CFO of Live-e,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen.

The Digital Hurricane

1. We are in the eye of the "Digital Hurricane". The personal computer and the Internet have driven much of the changes in the way we do things and conduct businesses. The "pressure of Internet" has created a hurricane of change. In the near future, the pressure brought about by the rapid convergence of information, telecommunications, broadcasting, consumer electronics, and multimedia technologies will add power to this hurricane. It will sweep across large parts of our civilisation landscape, bringing even greater transformation to our lives, and the way we work. We as an industry have to rethink our businesses.

The New Industry of Multimedia

2. As the IT, telecommunications and broadcasting industries start to converge under this "Digital Hurricane", business models are being transformed. The broadcast and entertainment industries have gone into IT markets, by offering online entertainment. The computer industries, particularly the multimedia and gaming industries, have entered the realm of entertainment. Many films have used computer-animated special effects to stretch the imagination of the audience ("Lost World", "Godzilla"), while the gaming industry has started hiring actual movie actors such as James Earl Jones to act in their story clips (game "Command & Conquer 2").

Multimedia Is Happening

3. Traditionally, multimedia content distribution has been hampered by the lack of access bandwidth, which in turn lowers the impulse for multimedia creation. However, this situation is changing. Predictions from Forrester showed that by 2003, there will be more newcomers in the US to the Internet via broadband services than over dial-up lines. Jupiter Communications projected that there will be two million subscribers to high-speed connectivity in the U.S. by end 1999, and that this will reach more than 11 million households by 2002.

4. Major players have moved rapidly into the broadband multimedia market. There has been active development in the US, both in the proliferation of the broadband infrastructure as well as the creation and distribution of media-rich content. For example, AOL, the world's largest Internet service provider, is investing in digital subscriber lines (DSL) and satellites, to reach out to millions of potential high-speed Internet customers; and has announced plans to develop broadband content. The phone giant AT&T has invested more than US$100 billion in cable companies such as Tele-Communications Incorporated (TCI) and MediaOne. The acquisitions will allow AT&T to use the cable infrastructure to offer data and telephony services. In a move to boost its position in broadband multimedia services, Microsoft has invested extensively in major US cable companies such as Comcast, and AT&T, as well as European cable companies such as NTL in the UK, and UPC in the Netherlands.

But It's Still At an Infancy

5. It will, therefore, not be off the mark to say that the future of the Information Age is Multimedia. The proliferation of broadband connectivity and media convergence will bring about increased user demand for multimedia content delivered via any means, may these be cable, xDSL, satellite or fibre to homes.

6. However, I believe all these developments are just the tip of the iceberg. We are just beginning to understand multimedia. Just as the early-day moviemakers would not have imagined the power of computer-animated special effects in today's movies, it would be naive to extrapolate the potential of multimedia from the current developments. The impact would be exponential, rather than linear. The future of multimedia is really very exciting. We have yet to fully comprehend the power that could potentially be unleashed by the multimedia of tomorrow.

Singapore Is Well-Positioned For the Multimedia Age

7. In Singapore, we have decided to invest in broadband multimedia some three years ago. We have built Singapore ONE - our nation-wide broadband infrastructure. Singapore ONE is the result of our continuing effort to explore emerging technology trends and to exploit the opportunities early. It reflects Singapore's forward planning in investing in cutting-edge technologies and infrastructure ahead of demand.

8. Access to Singapore ONE is now available to more than 98% of households, and is widely available in public locations. With 34,000 access nodes and 80,000 local users, Singapore ONE will continue to deliver the benefits of broadband multimedia to everyone.

9. The opportunity to take leadership in the emerging broadband market has attracted some 200 local and foreign partners, developing more than 180 applications. Selected Singapore ONE services are also available to the US broadband market through FastAsia, a site that is hosted on the @Home cable network, reaching out to some 620,000 subscribers.

10. Singapore ONE has also spurred the development of supporting industries such as multimedia design, system integration and content hosting.

11. Today, I am happy to launch Live-e - our very own home-grown multimedia company that Singapore ONE has helped to nurture. Live-E is an innovative "Infotainment Portal", providing a comprehensive portfolio of entertainment news, products and services, such as live and delayed webcasts of entertainment events and music videos, movie trailers and live concerts. Live-e can be considered as among the second generation Singapore ONE service providers, coming on board only recently this year, but rising rapidly to find its own niche, with an integrated service offering that includes multimedia content, online virtual communities and e-commerce transactions.

Singapore ONE - The Next Step

12. Singapore is firmly committed to the vision of Singapore ONE and the broadband multimedia industry. The foundation is now well in place for the entire nation to use Singapore ONE. Our industry and people must push ahead to exploit the benefits of broadband multimedia, for our work and daily lives. Our vision is to create a vibrant interactive broadband multimedia industry, to be one of the top centres for multimedia development in the world.

13. Going forward, we will embark on several key thrusts to take Singapore ONE into its next phase of development. These include: adding broadband wireless capabilities to the network; nurturing players in various parts of the content delivery value chain to create market, expertise, content and services; attracting key players in the content businesses and developing flagship projects for business adoption. Singapore ONE will also focus on the education market, to bring content and services from and to schools, and enable students to subscribe to Singapore ONE at affordable prices.

The Next Big Thing: ICT21

14. The new strategies for Singapore ONE are part of a broader push to chart the info-communications development in Singapore. We have started working on our 4th national IT plan, called the ICT21 Masterplan, which will facilitate the development of ICT in Singapore over the next 10 years.

15. Under ICT21, there are three major goals: namely,

i) to develop the ICT sector as the key sector of growth in the economy [Industries are in Singapore];
ii) to use ICT to boost the performance of Singapore's knowledge-based economy through the active exploitation of ICT in various economic sectors [Singapore companies use it]; and
iii) to use ICT to enhance the quality of life and standard of living of Singaporeans in the information society [Singaporeans use it].

Announcement of ONEChallenge

16. For ICT21 to succeed, we will need to have a high-quality "buzz" in ICT. Our vision is to produce a concentration of talent, activity, ideas, innovation and experimentation surrounding broadband multimedia in Singapore, and position Singapore as a centre for multimedia excellence. Towards this goal, I am happy to announce that the NCB has launched a first-of-its-kind broadband competition. Named ONEChallenge, this competition aims to spot the next generation broadband talents and allows them to test out their ideas and possibly to succeed as local broadband start-ups.

17. The competition is open to Singaporeans, permanent residents and residents outside Singapore. Contestants will compete by submitting their ideas on broadband business plans and mock-ups or prototypes. The entries will be judged by a panel that will include venture capitalists and industry captains. The top prize is $30,000 in cash for the most innovative broadband idea. To move the innovative ideas one step closer to becoming actual applications and services that can be deployed over Singapore ONE, we will refer the winners to relevant grant schemes, venture capitalists, and angels if they wish to start up their winning ideas.

18. It is our hope that ONEChallenge will spur creative individuals to push the limits of technology, exploiting the power of Singapore ONE. We want to make Singapore the place for the development of media-rich, online applications and services, and establish Singapore as a hotbed for new broadband technology developments.

19. Finally, my heartiest congratulations to Live-e. The many months of hard work have brought to fruition your bold vision today. It is our hope that Live-e will become a flag-bearer of Singapore's aspiration to be the Multimedia Hollywood of Asia and beyond.

Thank you.