Mr Lam Chuan Leong, Chairman Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore Opening Address - Public Forum on Proposed Code of Practice for Competition

Mr Lam Chuan Leong, Chairman
Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore
Opening Address - Public Forum on Proposed Code of Practice for Competition
Singapore, 15 May 2000

1. Welcome to IDA's public forum on "The Proposed Code of Competition for the Provision of Telecommunication Services".

2. The subject of a Competition Code may not sound glamorous compared to the rest of the Infocomm industry. It is certainly less exciting than the fever that now surrounds the companies. However, a sound competition code is a vital foundation for the development of the infocomm industry. Without it, there can be no sound telephone services let alone all the buzz surrounding e-business.

3. IDA management has spent much time studying the best practices in many other countries before developing the present draft. They have consulted experts in the field. I wish to thank them for the strenuous efforts that they have put in. Nevertheless, further modifications will be necessary to adapt the Code to make it more relevant to our specific requirements.

4. An up to date Competition Code is a key element in our move to liberalise the Infocomm sector. Since 1997, we have in place a set of guidelines on fair practices and conduct for industry players with the aim of ensuring fair competition within the telecommunications industry. Since then, however, Singapore's telecommunications industry has undergone dramatic changes. First, the liberalisation of the telecommunication industry on 1 April 2000 has ushered in many more facilities-based and services-based operators. Secondly, technology and service convergence is occurring rapidly and we are experiencing a proliferation of converging services deployment such as fixed-mobile convergence and broadband services. Historical market boundaries are also blurring with non-traditional telecommunications players competing to provide telecommunication services.

5. These developments serve to raise the level of inter-operator interactions and interconnection arrangements to new levels of complexity. The position of the new entrants vis-a-vis incumbents needs to be carefully assessed. The convergence of markets, technologies and services calls for a more comprehensive and robust competition framework to help ensure the development of fair, effective and sustainable competition. We would like to see the industry to compete on the merits of their range of innovative services, quality of customer care and support, technological capability, quality of services and competitive pricing. Industry players should have full flexibility and creativity in their operations and service offerings so that consumers, both personal and corporate, benefit from a wider choice of services and competitive prices. Barriers to entry should be kept to the minimum.

6. The proposed draft Code of Practice for Competition seeks to achieve a balance between competing policy objectives. It strives to set clear boundaries with regard to competitive market behaviour and yet provide sufficient room and flexibility for players to innovate and respond quickly to market needs and demands. It aims to facilitate interconnection and access arrangements. The industry must also be able to earn an adequate return on their investment so that they are encouraged to make the right investment decisions and to develop their products and services.

7. The formulation of this Code does not signal a greater or more onerous regulatory regime over the industry. On the contrary, the Code is intended to facilitate the development of a freely competitive market wherein operators can make their business decisions on the basis of market driven pricing signals.

8. IDA recognises that market forces must govern the competitive activities of the industry. We will emphasise private commercial negotiations and industry self-regulation as the primary means of regulating industry practices. We will continually review and streamline our regulations to ensure that they are in keeping with the times and are independent of or neutral with respect to the technology platform.

9. The subject of today's forum is of crucial importance to the economic well-being of current and future players in the Infocomm industry. It is therefore bound to bring forth many differing perspectives and ideas and stimulate lively debate. IDA welcomes your views on how to improve on the draft Code. I thank management once again for their efforts and all of you here today for your forthcoming comments and suggestions.

10. Thank you