Mr Leong Keng Thai, Deputy Chief Executive/Director-General (Telecoms) Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore Opening Address - ATIE 2000 Forum, Singapore Expo

Mr Leong Keng Thai, Deputy Chief Executive/Director-General (Telecoms)
Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore
Opening Address - ATIE 2000 Forum, Singapore Expo
Singapore, 5 June 2000


1. I would like to begin by thanking the organiser, the Association of Telecommunications Industry of Singapore (ATIS) for their efforts in putting together this Asian Telecommunications Industry Exchange (ATIE) Forum. Organised in conjunction with CommunicAsia2000, this is also the first time that the ATIE Forum is held in Singapore.

2. This Forum could not have happened at a better time. In an age where everything happens at Internet speed, this is a good platform for industry players to take stock of recent developments in the region, and share experiences with one another. Let me also take this opportunity to share with you some of the things Singapore has been doing in this area. Over the past few months, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore or IDA, has been introducing and implementing components of what we call, the Infocomm21 Master Plan. This Master Plan is made up of several major initiatives, aimed at developing Singapore into a leading infocomm hub in the region. To realise that vision, Singapore will have to be a key player in the provision of telecommunications services, e-business transactions and distribution of digital goods and services in Asia.

3. With everyone in the industry and the media talking about the new economy, one cannot help but be swept along into the new economy syndrome - an economy powered by the Internet and other infocomm-related technologies. Singapore has recognised the vast economic potential of the Digital Economy and we have invested heavily in a broadband infrastructure to give Singapore the competitive edge in the Digital Age. Singapore ONE, our nation-wide broadband network is a result of that investment.

4. Singapore ONE provides the necessary bandwidth to carry interactive broadband multimedia content and applications to practically every individual in Singapore. It is now accessible by more than 99% of Singapore, linking businesses, schools, public libraries and community centres on a high-speed information network. This is an example of how technology has altered the way people live, work, communicate and play.

5. In terms of international connectivity, we have established high-speed Internet links with countries in the Asia Pacific, US and Europe. Our global connectivity and coverage has enabled us to put in place an infrastructure to facilitate Internet commerce and to be a key Internet exchange.

Liberalisation of the Telecommunications Industry

6. The first Infocomm21 initiative, also the most significant one thus far, was the full liberalisation of the telecommunications industry, which took place on 1 April this year. Given the speed at which technology and the global industry are moving, we could not afford to wait until the earlier committed date of 2002. Two years means forever in Internet time. In recent years, the face of the infocomm landscape has changed dramatically - new usages of technology and innovation in services, which we never thought of, bombard our senses ever so often. Along with this comes convergence of telecommunications, IT, the media and other areas like content creation, web infrastructure and broadband access provision - just to name a few. To make it attractive for global industry players to conduct business in and with Singapore, we must provide a strong foundation of a world-class telecommunications infrastructure providing affordable and high-quality services. Liberalisation was just the means to this end.

7. Since 1 April when the IDA issued 66 licences to Facilities and Services-based operators, many more new licences have been issued. Collectively, they offer the full range of services, from the provision of network capacity, to Internet access and exchange services, to international telephone services. We now have a globally competitive telecommunications market with many players offering a wide range of innovative, high quality and cost-effective services to businesses and consumers.

Our Vision for the Infocomm Sector

8. While liberalisation will advance our development into a thriving digital economy, another thrust of Infocomm21 is to grow the infocomm industry into the next major sector of growth in the Singapore economy. We have identified 3 main strategies to lead us towards that goal:

a) The first strategy is to jumpstart the Interactive Broadband Multimedia Industry (IBBMM). To do this, we will need an open access policy to bring in more players; stimulate the demand & supply of IBBMM content through lowering access costs and providing support through content hosting schemes; incentivise the development of new media services like wireless & interactive TV; and encouraging commercial buildings or industrial parks to broadband-enable their infrastructure.

b) Secondly , we have to build capabilities that are needed for the new Internet economy and encourage innovation in key growth areas such as 3G wireless, mobile commerce, speech recognition and embedded software technology;

c) Lastly, we have to foster strategic partnerships and alliances overseas to help our industry regionalise and globalise; and at the same time, make Singapore attractive to foreign investments and conducive to businesses to operate in Singapore.

9. It is here that I am indeed glad that ATIS has worked successfully with its regional counterparts to put together this Forum in Singapore. While governments may set the vision and provide a helping hand when needed, nothing beats self-motivated commercial interactions and exchange of experience amongst industry players. In gatherings such as this one, there is something to take away for everyone. It is a win-win occasion. I therefore strongly urge that the interactions do not stop after the Forum, but that stronger ties be forged among the various telecommunication industry groupings in the Asia Pacific region.


10. On this note, I wish all of you a successful conference and to our foreign delegates, do have a pleasant stay in Singapore. Thank you.