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Challenges and Opportunities facing the Broadband industry

Khoong Hock Yun, Assistant Chief Executive, Infocomm Development, IDA Singapore - Welcome Address, Opening of Broadband World Asia 2001, Suntec Singapore ...  

Khoong Hock Yun, Assistant Chief Executive, Infocomm Development, IDA Singapore - Welcome Address, Opening of Broadband World Asia 2001, Suntec Singapore

Singapore, 24 October 2001

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning to all of you.


It is my pleasure to be here today at the opening of Broadband World Asia 2001. This conference, which is part of the Digital Media World series in UK and Australia, is here in this part of Asia for the first time and we're pleased that Singapore has been chosen to host this inaugural event.

The current outlook on the infocomm industry in Asia is unfortunately not as encouraging as a year ago and now even less so after the September 11 incident. The forecast for the near-term economic climate is expected to be downcast with continuous heavy downpour resulting in floods in certain areas with little blue skies in sight.

The impact of this bleak weather on our Infocomm Industry is two-fold. On the negative side, not only do businesses have to manage the fallout from the dot-com meltdown, but also the overall decrease in spending on IT services due to the global recession. On the positive side, Asia has a glimmer of sunshine with the emergence of China as a growing market and companies are including its huge market potential in their corporate strategies and dealings.

How can we chart our way through a time of uncertainty like this? I believe it starts with bracing ourselves for the tougher journey ahead; focusing on our core competencies, and adapting to the challenges we will face through innovation and strategic alliances.

Focus On Core Competencies

The early days of the Internet revolution started with everyone wanting to be everything to all people and do everything in the process of converting browsers to buyers. It was not uncommon in those days to have companies with operations straddling across the value chain, from access provision to content development, or from content development to aggregation and order fulfillment and so forth.

However, as the industry goes through a cycle of restructuring and consolidation like now, the need of the hour is for companies to know what the key abilities within their organization are, and to focus on their core competencies. The same goes for the broadband industry today in Singapore where our industry players are all fairly matured in their developmental efforts and know what is required to push ahead as we move towards mass adoption and multiple market segments. It is also timely for companies to review the value that they have created and how they can leverage on their strengths in moving ahead. This will help you build world-class solutions necessary to compete in the global internet economy.

Take for example, if you are a good content aggregator, it may be better for you to focus on the role of marketing your site well, so that it becomes a reliable household brand like the Lycos and DoCoMo of today. As a content aggregator, you will also have to focus on positioning and building yourself into the trusted payment link between your partners and customers and to develop viable business models. A good content developer or creator on the other hand, may serve the market better by focusing its efforts in creating compelling content to serve the differentiated needs of the consumers leaving the customer reach and billing issues to the content aggregator or access provider.

The road ahead requires us to not just defend our existing forte, but also ensure we are developing unique, core capabilities that differentiates us from other companies developing the same skills. Companies will need to develop an understanding of what competencies their customers truly value, and invest accordingly to develop and sustain these valued strengths. This is especially vital where resources are limited in the current market situation, where your competitors are possibly gearing up with consolidated resources to do things differently and your customers are also becoming more selective in the choices they make due to tighter budgets.

For the government, we remain committed in our support to enable companies in their developmental efforts through our programmes, some of which include :

  • the Content Enrichment Scheme under our Fast Track programme where content owners and developers can tap on to further enhance and create compelling interactive broadband multimedia content; and

  • if you are a content aggregator who already has existing EC capabilities but wish to expand further on your e-Business value creation, we have the eBusiness Industry Development Scheme or eBIDS, which will support e-commerce developments that promote online transactions and total EC value for Singapore;

  • As for Application Service Providers supporting the local enterprises' e-business infrastructure needs, such as customer relationship management, electronic resource planning and supply chain management, the Jumpstart Programme administered by PSB is also available for content companies to leverage on to build their EC capability.

Innovate to  Capture Opportunitues

To further strengthen and maintain their competitive edge, companies will also need to see how they can continually innovate and keep up with technology developments.

The advent of convergence for example will bring about the need to have multiple platforms for content development and delivery. In this aspect, the delivery of broadband content and services have moved from just being on desktop PCs to mobile devices like GPRS phones, PDAs and portable PCs. Singapore is a good test bed and launchpad for these new innovative services. Singapore has close to 50% internet penetration and 76% mobile penetration, putting Singapore in the same league as the innovative wireless Scandinavian countries. Singapore is also recognized as a safe IPR hub that encourages innovation.

IDA will support efforts by industry players to pilot or trial innovative applications and services. For example, this could be efforts to encourage the proliferation of broadband content through multiple platforms, or the development of an integrated billing system for content consumption with Digital Rights Management incorporated to support content players. With our support, we hope that companies can use this opportunity to pilot and test out innovations that will give them the competitive edge when the economy recovers for Singapore and beyond.

Collaborate & Regionalise

As we focus on our core competencies, to provide the complete solution that can be turned into revenue, companies will need to collaborate across value chains and even across geographies. Therefore, besides innovation, collaboration and regionalisation through partnerships is necessary to enable businesses to harness business opportunities in potential markets. Let us not forget that the potential of broadband lies beyond just Singapore. It is important for us to continue to forge partnerships in the region so that we can leverage on each other's strengths and develop the Asia broadband market as a whole. eMarketer in March 2001 reported that key cities in the Asia Pacific are all rated highly in a global country comparison for broadband readiness. (Source: eMarketer, March 2001). Led by South Korea and Japan, the Asia region will rival both Europe and North America in terms of number of broadband households by 2005. India and China are also rapidly building broadband networks and it is expected that within 3 to 5 years they will be significant broadband Internet markets in their own right.

Some of our industry players like Walker Asia, CBN and Real Networks have already started to spearhead this regional drive through strategic partnerships facilitated by IDA. They have begun exploiting the opportunities available in areas such as localization, licensing, marketing and distribution. We hope that more industry players will continue their developments with the region in mind so that we can spur the development of broadband in Asia as a whole and grow the Asia broadband market.


The weather ahead of us is unpredictable but regardless of what happens, the Infocomm sector is an important growth sector for Singapore and broadband is one of our anchors to weather the storm ahead. IDA remains committed to support the development of broadband in Singapore by providing the necessary leverage for industry partners to move ahead.

On that note, I think Broadband World Asia is an excellent time and platform for industry players to discuss and look at the challenges and opportunities before us and explore how we can move forward together.

Let me end by congratulating the organizers Terrapin for making this conference possible. I hope that all participants will gain inspiration from the knowledge sharing over the next two days and I am sure new ideas and opportunities will be spawned out of this forum.

I wish all of you a fruitful time. Thank you.