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Singapore - Your Partner in Info-Communications

Lam Chuan Leong, Chairman, IDA Singapore - Keynote Address CIAPR Forum - Singapore Day Symposium, Grand Hyatt Shanghai, China

Lam Chuan Leong, Chairman, IDA Singapore - Keynote Address
CIAPR Forum - Singapore Day Symposium, Grand Hyatt Shanghai, China

25 May 2001

Thank you very much for taking the time to be with us for our Singapore Day Symposium.


Yesterday at the CIAPR Forum, I spoke about how the Information Revolution promises to yield rich economic dividends to those countries which manage to ride the crest of this wave to prosperity and also that sustained economic growth requires that nations "informatize" their society pervasively and as quickly as possible.

Fortunately, Singapore began as early as 1980 to harness information technology for government and industry. By 1998, we have reached a high level of what may be called "e-Readiness". By that we mean, high penetration rates of telecommunications, PC and Internet use, pervasive use of Information Technology by the Government, businesses and public as well as a national broadband national information infrastructure that reaches more than 99% of Singapore.

By 1999, with convergence occurring amongst the technologies of computing, telecommunications and broadcasting was taking place, the Singapore government formed the Infocomm Development Authority out of the merger of the National Computer Board and the Telecommunications Authority of Singapore in Dec 1999. The word "Infocomm" was chosen to symbolise the merger of the two technologies, Information and Communications.

Infocomm 21 IDA set out to formulate a new five- year plan called "Infocomm 21". The vision of Infocomm 21 is to develop Singapore into a vibrant and dynamic global Infocomm Hub with a thriving and prosperous e-Economy and a pervasive and Infocomm-savvy e-Society. A most significant element in this vision of the Infocomm Hub is the concept of total involvement by the whole society in Singapore in the process of achieving it. The People, the Private Sector, the Public (that is Government) Sector have all to be involved in making this Hub happen.

Private Sector

One key step towards building the Infocomm Hub was the full liberalisation of the telecommunications sector in April 2000. Telecommunications costs were lowered very substantially and this spurred substantial growth in usage of as well as capital investments in telecommunications services.

We increased Singapore's global reach through high speed international internet connectivity. Today, Singapore has over 45 Mbps direct Internet links with all the key cities in the Asia Pacific and over 1 Gbps direct Internet links with the US.

Programmes were implemented to attract leading Infocomm players to set up business in Singapore with emphasis on key sectors such as Telecommunications, Wireless, Digital Media, Software and IT Services, and Internet Data Centres.

In general, these programmes facilitate industry development by providing a platform for companies to participate in specific projects including pilot projects. There are also programmes to facilitate market access development with joint marketing and research efforts and assistance to jumpstart the development of new and innovative technologies and services.

We also aim to have one of the best e-Governments in the world through the on-line delivery of the widest range of high-quality services to the people and businesses in Singapore. A key feature of this plan is to provide integrated services that cut across all government agencies. Thus a person can reach a comprehensive range of services at the same portal even though those services may be provided by different government agencies. We call such a service "user-centric" rather than "agency-centric". This is the electronic equivalent of the "one-stop service" concept. An e-Government Action Plan was launched in the year 2000; a sum of nearly USS$1 billion was set aside for this purpose.

To develop Singapore into an Infocomm-savvy society, all Universities and polytechnics are wired with sophisticated campus-wide networks. Primary and secondary schools will have one PC for every two students; 30% of the school curricula will be IT-based by next year. To bridge the digital divide, we offer basic training in IT literacy including Internet use to workers, housewives, the unemployed, retired or disabled so that they will not be disadvantaged in the new e-Society. We help the more needy acquire computers by recycling old PC's. The National Trade Union Congress has an "Easy PC Plan" for members purchase a new PC at very low cost.

As a result, Singapore today has attained a high standard of E-Readiness. The Economist Intelligence Unit Report dated May 2001 ranked Singapore the Top Location in Asia in E-Readiness. Globally, amongst 60 countries, Singapore ranks seventh.

Looking forward

Today, I shall like to elaborate on the developments in 5 areas, namely, Broadband, Wireless, Internet Data Centre, e-commerce, and e-government.


Singapore is entering the mass adoption phase of development for broadband with a island-wide broadband infrastructure, over 300 Industry Players and 300,000 users. Six broadband access providers provide ADSL, Cable Modem and ATM access to over 99% of Singapore.

Our industry players are involved throughout the entire value-chain from content and applications development to content delivery. Our companies have actively worked in collaborative projects to develop broadband technology, applications and content with industry players from China, Japan, US, Korea and Australia.

Some of these content owners or developers include Singapore's first TV broadcaster MediaCorp, homegrown music portals like Soundbuzz and Vivamusic. Singapore schools have started developing broadband content for their curriculum together with education service providers. Over 40 schools are participating in our programmes to integrate broadband in teaching and learning.

Two companies, Singapore Power and SP Telecommunications have started trials for services such as Voice over IP, Local Area Networks as well as high speed Internet access from any power point within the user's premises.


We have just allocated 3-G spectrum licences to 3 telco operators. We have launched a Wired with Wireless Programme with various initiatives to:

  • Proliferate technological innovation for wireless
  • Develop exportable wireless products and services
  • Develop leading edge mobile and communications knowledge and skills
  • Promote mass adoption of a wireless lifestyle

The programme offers to test-bed and pilot innovative wireless products and services in Singapore.

Some examples of wireless developments in Singapore include:

  • Cap Gemini has a Global Wireless Internet Centre set up to develop products and services for wireless Internet and m-commerce.
  • Ericsson Cyberlab initiated a project in collaboration with the Centre for Wireless Communications to develop the "DelphiPad" - a 3G mobile terminal prototype. Another project to develop a telematics product called Wired Mobile was developed with a Singapore company goMobile which is targeted for the US and European market.
  • Edgematrix, one of our Singapore company (who is here with us today) is developing a wireless service project with Nanyang Polytechnic to enable the booking of facilities, checking of time tables, application of leave through the use of mobile devices e.g. WAP phones or PDAs.


We aim to grow Singapore into a trusted global e-business hub in the Asia Pacific region for both B2B and B2C. In 1999, Singapore's B2B transactions totalled approximately US$21 billion. This is expected to grow to US$50 billion in 2000. Business-to-consumer transactions grew from US$80 million in 1999 to US$0.6 billion in 2000.

IDA is encouraging the use of robust and secure e-business infrastructure such as the Public Key Infrastructure for encryption and authentication for e-commerce. We have formed a Security Standards Technical Committee to recommend IT Security standards.

Some of our key success stories in e-commerce include:

  • Smartcards: The NETS (Network for Electronic Transfers) Company manages one of the world's most successful nation-wide e-purse called CashCard.
  • Digital Rights Management: Mercurix, a subsidiary of SingTel, was one of the first companies in Asia to provide DRM services which include clearing house and backend solutions for both online and offline distribution of content. They have teamed up with world leading media-company BMG to digitally distribute their music catalogue in the Asia Pacific.
  • PortNet : The PSA Corporation (formerly the Port of Authority of Singapore) has developed PortNet to provide one point of entry for users which includes online ordering and documentation systems, facilitation of fulfilment and trace services. PortNet has 7,000 users generating over 69 million transactions. PSA Corporation is now extending the use of PORTNET to strategic partners overseas, including China's Dalian Container Terminal.
  • Intelligent Building Systems: A Singapore company, Eutech Cybernetics, has developed a building system solution to monitor and control geographically dispersed building facilities from one central location through the Internet. With this solution, a technology park operator now can check on the status of, say, the air-conditioning systems throughout a few hundred factories, all from his laptop.

Internet Data Centre

Singapore's excellent broadband infrastructure, good international connectivity, a multi-racial and multi-cultural population as well as the presence of many Multinational Corporations serving the regional markets makes it an ideal location for Internet Data Centres.

We have over 20 Internet Data Centres supporting a whole spectrum of services from web to ASP hosting, content delivery services, co-location, provision of managed services, security and disaster recovery. It was reported (Business Times in Singapore, Sept 2000) that the total space for content hosting is expected to increase by more than six times from 200,000 square in 2000 to 1.5 million square feet in 2001.

Besides providing a full suite of services for customers, some of our local IDCs also have regional and international points of presence which can deliver content and services to the region and beyond.

We have with us here today, two IDC's, namely, i-STT and StarHub, and I am sure they will be glad to tell you more about their capabilities and expertise.

Manpower Development

To develop the skills of our Infocomm Workforce we have, amongst others,

The Critical Infocomm Technology Resource Programme to accelerate the development of emerging, critical and specialised skills that are urgently needed in the Infocomm industry. The target is to train about 1,000 Infocomm professionals in these areas.

The National Infocomm Competency Centre: A joint effort amongst IDA, the Singapore Computer Society, the Ministry of Manpower, industry and academia, this centre will provide professional certification of Infocomm competencies and skills. Their first set of certification will cover Internet Development, Security Management and e-Business.


The Singapore Government has been very pro-active in its efforts to be one of the best e-governments in the world. We will continue to push the envelope of Electronic Service Delivery with the highest level of quality and convenience to the public and to businesses.

I would like to quote one major example of what has been achieved by Singapore Network Services (SNS). This is a company, which was responsible for the development of "TradeNet", a nation-wide electronic trade documentation system. This system resulted in a paperless system for all import and export declarations for Singapore. All such trade declarations are submitted electronically thus saving time, minimising errors and reducing the time required for approval. The project won the internationally renowned "Partners for Leadership" award from the Society for Information Management in the United States and the National Computer Board's "GIGA" award. In addition, the Harvard Business School has published two positive case studies on TradeNet. The company went on to implement the LawNet, Central Provident Fund and Inland Revenue online systems.


Because of history, size and location, Singapore has always been a hub of one sort or another. We began as a great seaport capitalising on our location and excellent infrastructure, and we also have a well-regarded airport. It is not surprising therefore that in this Infocomm Age, Singapore is well positioned to be one of the world's key infocomm hub. Our fortunes have always lain in plugging ourselves into the region and to the world at large.

We therefore welcome the industry players here today to closely examine the opportunities that Singapore can offer in terms of excellent infrastructure, good international connectivity, a pro-business environment and skilled manpower for their Infocomm ventures.

Our industry players have gained useful knowledge and skills from Singapore's successful so-called "informatization programme" over the last 2 decades. Some of these companies are here today and they will be very keen to share with you their experiences and capabilities. I hope that in the process all of you will have the opportunity to explore new areas of co-operation and joint business ventures.

May I wish you every success in your endeavours.

Thank you very much.

Title Date of Issue
Presentation Slides (2.25MB) 12 December 2000