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Hooked on Broadband Seminar : Riding the Asia Wave

Lim Swee Say, Minister of State for Communications & Information Technology and Trade & Industry - Speech FastTrack Seminar

Lim Swee Say, Minister of State for Communications & Information Technology and Trade & Industry - Speech
FastTrack Seminar

Singapore, 18 September 2000

1. Three years ago, we took a bold step by deciding to launch Singapore ONE, our nation-wide broadband network. The risk was high because at that time, international standards for DSL and Cable Modem were still under development. There was also no killer application on broadband Internet in the market.

2. But we decided that it was a risk worth taking. The market potential for broadband applications and services was growing, and is going to be huge. By positioning ourselves as an early adopter of broadband technology and an innovator in broadband applications, we aim to strengthen our competitiveness as a global Infocom hub in the Asia Pacific. So we took the risk, and took on the many challenges faced by early adopters of broadband technology.

3. Three years have gone by. Today, one may ask, "is broadband taking off in Singapore? Where do we go from here?"

4. Broadband has certainly taken off in Singapore. If we look at the growth of broadband users, there are now about 250,000 broadband users in Singapore, compared to just over 100,000 users early this year. In other words, the broadband user base has more than doubled in the last 6 months.

5. This expanding pool of broadband users includes a growing number of home users, students in schools, and members of the public at places such as the libraries. There is also an increase in the number of commercial buildings and condominiums that are broadband enabled. As more consumers, businesses and corporate users adopt broadband, we can expect to see a greater variety of applications and services offered on Singapore ONE.

6. Another clear sign that broadband is taking off in Singapore is the emergence of a vibrant broadband industry. A year ago, there were about 200 players in our broadband industry. Today, the number of industry players has grown to about 300, and the number of companies incorporating broadband as an integral part of their business strategies has reached 1000.

7. The broadband industry is now able to offer a wide range of services relating to content development, localisation, hosting and delivery. Some of the industry players are also partnering foreign broadband players to expand their capabilities and market reach. As the broadband industry continues to upgrade and grow, it is certain to attract more businesses to innovate with broadband as they gear up to compete in the Knowledge Based Economy.

8. On the whole, we are encouraged by the steady progress we have made in developing broadband capabilities and promoting the use of broadband in Singapore. This good progress would not have been possible without the support and participation of many of our industry players, both local and foreign. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of them and many of you here for your contribution.

9. The next question is, where do we go from here?

10. The outlook of broadband is positive and exciting. From the technology angle, we will see the introduction of wireless broadband, or 3G, in the near future. This will complement fixed-wire broadband and make broadband an even more pervasive technology.

11. From the market angle, we can expect to see a fast growing market in Asia for broadband. The Yankee Group has projected that there will be 11 million broadband users in Asia by end 2003, with a projected annual revenue of more than US$5 billion.

12. To take full advantage of the fast-changing technology and fast growing market, we have three key priorities in the coming years. First, to speed up the pace of innovation in broadband applications; second, to broaden the base of broadband penetration; and third, to foster greater collaboration in the Asia Pacific region.

Faster Pace of innovation

13. Our first priority is to speed up the pace of innovation. To have early access to emerging technologies and application platforms, IDA will actively promote and encourage global leaders, such as RealNetworks and On2, to use Singapore as an early adopter of their inventions. Microsoft is one good example. It has decided to use Singapore as the launch site for its Asian Broadband Jumpstart Initiative for the deployment of new broadband applications in Asia.

14. By strengthening our broadband content ecosystem, we hope to encourage more online service providers to convert their existing narrow-band offerings into broadband applications.

15. We are also preparing our young to be broadband savvy. IDA, with the support of the MOE, has put in place a Fast Track @ School programme. This has allowed more than 50 schools to upgrade their broadband facilities and develop interactive broadband education content. For example, students from schools like River Valley are filming their own science experiments and putting them online. They are also creating their own multimedia based lesson plans around these experiments. We hope this will give young Singaporeans a head start in the innovative use of broadband.

16. The government is not alone in promoting broadband development in Singapore. Leading players in our broadband industry are also taking active steps to spearhead innovative efforts in broadband. One excellent example is the formation of the Broadband Media Association. It will bring together broadband players to help build and grow the broadband media industry here, and allow for faster access to emerging and promising technology through alliances and partnerships.

17. Another example is the formation of Education Consortiums among education service providers in Singapore. Facilitated by the IDA, they can collaborate in the development of broadband education service and product offerings for Singapore and the region.

Broaden the Base of Broadband Penetration

18. Our second priority is to broaden the base of broadband penetration by encouraging and facilitating keener competition in the industry. This will improve price competitiveness and quality of service.

19. The government is committed to enhance the quality and capacity of our National Information Infrastructure for broadband through market liberalisation, open access, interconnection, and open and fair competition. The announcement of the code of practices by IDA last Friday is a case in point.

20. At the same time, we will continue to support and incentivise the development and introduction of a wider variety of broadband applications for entertainment, education, information, business and so on. We need to bring more benefits to the existing pool of broadband users, both home and corporate users, for us to attract more users to take up broadband services on Singapore ONE and sustain the growth of broadband here.

Foster Greater Regional Collaboration

21. Last but not least, our third priority is to foster stronger collaboration in the Asia Pacific region. This will speed up the development of the broadband Industry and market in Asia, as Asian economies strive to keep up with global developments.

22. IDA has taken pro-active steps to forge partnerships with leading players in the region, including Taiwan, China and Korea. Under these partnerships, we are encouraging our industry players to collaborate with regional broadband players on the exchange of content and technology, and sharing of eye-balls.

23. For example, I am told that Gigamedia of Taiwan will be launching its broadband portal here today for our Singapore ONE users. We will do likewise in Taiwan. With the signing of more alliances today with partners from Hong Kong, India and Japan, we are paving the way for more collaboration in broadband development in Asia.

24. Some of you may recall the announcement of a $150 million package by the Government in April this year to jumpstart the development and growth of the Interactive Broadband Multimedia (IBBMM) industry in Singapore. The aim of the $150 million package is to support the development, hosting and delivery of broadband content in our industry, and the deployment of broadband services in our market.

25. To encourage regional and broadband players to deploy broadband content and services for the Asian markets, IDA has decided to expand the scope and enhance the level of support under this $150 million package. Today, I am pleased to announce the launching of an International Content Hosting Scheme.

26. It will support the hosting of innovative broadband contents in Singapore for Singapore ONE users as well as for delivery to the regional markets. The duration of support can be up to 2 years, compared to only six months under the existing Online Hosting Scheme. We hope that this enhanced Scheme will help speed up the growth of broadband markets in the region, and at the same time strengthen Singapore's position as a broadband content hub in Asia.

27. In conclusion, we are encouraged by the healthy growth in our broadband user base, and the vibrancy of our broadband industry. The future of broadband is promising and exciting, but full of challenges too. We can build on our foundation, forge ahead and stay ahead, by working closely under a strong public-private sector partnership.

28. I thank you all again for your support, participation and contribution to the growth of broadband in Singapore. We look forward to working with you in the coming years, to quicken the pace of innovation, broaden the base of penetration, and strengthen regional collaboration to make Asia a leading region in broadband in the New Economy.

Thank you.