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Singapore One -The Vision of An Intelligent Island

Yong Ying-I, Chief Executive Officer, IDA Singapore - Speech International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) Conference

Yong Ying-I, Chief Executive Officer, IDA Singapore - Speech
International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) Conference
Singapore, 18 Jul 2000


1. May I begin by thanking the Association for giving me the pleasure of sharing with all of you the developments in Singapore ONE and how we see broadband developments going forward.

About Singapore One

2. I would like to start by giving a bit of background on the initial developments of Singapore ONE. Back in 1992, when National Computer Board (NCB) was tasked to put up the IT2000 Masterplan for Singapore - The vision was to " Transform Singapore into an Intelligent Island, where the use of information technology is pervasive in every aspect of our society, at work, at home and at play."

3. In order to achieve this vision, we identified five strategic areas that were required. The first was to put in place a National Information Infrastructure (NII) which would serve the country's requirements. Along with that, we also needed to identify some of the key services that could be deployed over the infrastructure - for example health, education, logistics, etc. The next steps were to put in place programmes to build an IT-savvy population that would use the new technology; to create a vibrant IT industry; and to get the various government services computerised and to go online.

4. At the time Singapore developed our National Information Infrastructure, the Internet took off. We realised that there could be a huge potential economic value in the area of data delivery. The infrastructure we had must therefore be able to support a huge traffic of such data. It was also then, that the first signs of convergence between technologies appeared. In Singapore, we started calling this the 3Cs - convergence between computing, communications and content.

5. The 3Cs was a leap of faith for us - that the digital future would see convergence between what is now called the internet, telecommunications and media, and that the delivery of data would be interactive, broadband and multimedia. This convergence was confirmed to the world last year with the AOL / Time Warner merger. It is now clear that the convergence is no longer an industry specific phenomena but a cross industry development that will fundamentally change the underlying foundation of how we do business today.

6. It was also in recognition of this convergence in computing, communications and content that IDA was formed last year. IDA was formed from the merger of the National Computer Board and Telecommunications Authority of Singapore under the new Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.

Where We Are Today

7. This brings me to where we are today. The Singapore ONE broadband network is available islandwide, covering 99% of Singapore. End users are able to choose between ADSL or cable for their broadband access whilst institutions and companies can have a direct ATM link. Currently, we have about 135,000 users. All our schools and most of our libraries and community centres have broadband access.

8. We have over 200 applications and services now on our network and we'll show you some of those a little later. What is very important is the strong partnership between the private and public sectors to make Singapore ONE happen. Although the Singapore ONE initiative was led by the government, the entire effort was developed together with our 200 industry partners. The achievements are the result of industry's commitment to make the vision a reality.

9. As with anything new, the initial efforts were challenging, especially since broadband developments were in their infancy worldwide and we were in totally new territory. We have spent the first two years since commercialisation, putting in place the necessary infrastructure, technical know-how and expertise. We have learnt through our experiences. I would say that Singapore today has gone through the bottom part of the S-curve and is at the point where we are ready for the accelerated development of the broadband industry.

Jumpstarting the IBBMM Industry

10. Singapore realised that given the pace of global developments, we too must adjust rapidly in order to compete in the first league. The Singapore government announced earlier this year, as part of our Infocomm 21 masterplan, that we should bring forward the liberalisation of the telecommunications market. Liberalised market access for telecommunications is a core foundation of Singapore's efforts to accelerate the development of the infocomm sector including the broadband industry. To-date since liberalised environment in Singapore, we have issued some 106 licenses to Facilities-based and Services-based operators. We aim to have a globally competitive telecommunications market with many players offering a wide range of innovative, high quality and cost effective services.

11. The government also identified three main thrusts to accelerate the growth of the Infocomm sector. One of these is "Jumpstarting the Interactive Broadband Multimedia (IBBMM) industry in Singapore. "

12. To do this, we have introduced open access to the telecoms infrastructure to enable more players to offer broadband services. This will in turn enable users to enjoy more innovative offerings and better service.

13. IDA has also developed a package to stimulate both the demand and supply of IBBMM content services. For the demand side, we will help offset some of the costs of infrastructure and equipment. We will also co-share some of the costs for the provision of the international leased circuits through the broadband infrastructure. For the supply side, we have put in place programmes to create incentives for content providers to put their contents on our broadband network. This also includes the development of new media services such as wireless Internet, interactive TV and new information appliances.

14. In addition, we've also included an initiative to broadband-enable high-rise commercial buildings and industrial parks to create cyber precincts in Singapore. This will enable start-up companies or MNCs to go into broadband development within a short space of time. Examples of this would be the Chai Chee Industrial Estate and Suntec City.

15. With these various building blocks in place, I believe it will create a vibrant IBBMM industry for Singapore.

Harnessing the Asia Broadband Potential

16. However, an individual effort like ours is simply not enough. None of us have users who only want to access local services. The Internet is global and our users want global services. Online service providers likewise want an international market. Singapore therefore believes that Asia as a whole will need to come together in this effort. As we all know, there will be more than one infocomm hub in Asia. The strategies today involve alliances. Singapore is looking to work with these key hubs together to develop the Asia broadband potential.

17. Before we can move forward, we have to recognise the fundamental issues that make Asia a challenging market. Some of these include culture, language, income gap, technology gap, infrastructure differences and different rates of economic development. These are potential barriers for building an Asian broadband market. But in difficulty lies opportunity. We in Asia may be in a better position to understand and overcome these barriers than our competitors.

18. On our part, Singapore has already started to form strategic partnerships and alliances with international and regional broadband players. Our partners have also recognised that we have to work together in these areas. The partnerships allow for an active exchange of content and technology that will be localised for consumption in the different markets. Such exchanges will work towards expanding business opportunities beyond just the local market and help build broadband capabilities in Asia as a whole.

19. We would therefore like to invite our regional partners to work with us through Singapore ONE to develop new media content and applications, repackage and localise these content, test and then launch into the regional and global marketplace.

20. For Singapore, our infrastructure is in place and the various developments within will continue. For Asia, it is time for us to look at how we can work together to create a vibrant broadband e-economy as a whole.

21. Thank you. I will now invite my colleague, Samantha Fok, to show you some of the applications and services that we have on Singapore ONE.