Be aware of scammers impersonating as IMDA officers and report any suspicious calls to the police. Please note that IMDA officers will never call you nor request for your personal information. For scam-related advice, please call the Anti-Scam helpline at 1800-722-6688 or go to

Harnessing The Potential Of Connected Homes

Khoong Hock Yun, Assistant Chief Executive, Infocomm Development, IDA Singapore - Speech Connected Homes Programme CFC, Raffles Hotel Singapore, 25 April 2002

Khoong Hock Yun, Assistant Chief Executive, Infocomm Development, IDA Singapore - Speech
Connected Homes Programme CFC, Raffles Hotel
Singapore, 25 April 2002

Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Morning

Let me start off by asking a question. How many of you have connected up your homes in one form or another, may it be with wireless LANs, broadband routers or home networking? Has it made any difference to your life? And if you have not connected up your own homes, it is time to do so, since many of you here will soon be connecting up other people's homes.

I have connected my home. I surf the net and read my mail through a wireless LAN, which is connected by broadband to the Internet. I can do this anywhere at home.

Let me highlight three main points on the importance of Connected Homes. Firstly, it provides a new platform for businesses and innovation. Secondly, it will enable us to improve our quality of life. And thirdly, it can help to improve the opportunities for the wider society.

New Platform For Businesses & Innovation

A study by Cahners In-Stat Group in 2001 had projected that the connected home market consisting of home networking equipment, software, residential gateways and home control and automation products is expected to grow seven times over 5 years from US$1.4 billion in 2001 to US$9.2 billion worldwide by 2006. Countries like the US and Europe have already started to explore the potential in this area with various technologies. Although most of the developments are still in the early stages, it is timely for us to explore the potential of home networking and determine for ourselves if this is indeed a viable future.

Singapore has reached the stage where we can take advantage of the progress we have made in the past 10 years. Firstly, both the government and the industry have invested in a world-class broadband infrastructure that is pervasive, and accessible to everyone in Singapore. This provides a good platform for the development of new products & services to be delivered electronically to homes and businesses. Secondly, our population has grown more IT-savvy throughout the years, with high PC penetration of 61% and half of our population becoming Internet users. A recent survey conducted in November last year established that 1 out of 3 Singaporeans surf the Internet with broadband. This provides a good test market in Singapore for companies to pilot, develop and deploy more innovative services that can then be exported to countries in the region and beyond.

The next question is: Is our market ready for Connected Homes? Is there a demand for it? We recently commissioned AC Nielsen, a professional research company, to conduct a survey of 450 households. This is to ascertain the level of readiness and interest for Connected Homes. In terms of readiness, the survey results showed that almost 25% of the households have two or more PCs and 20% of the households have two to three PDAs or handheld PCs. However, less than 5 percent of this group have a home network that is up and running. But the interest in home networking is there. Almost one third of all respondents are either "Definitely interested'' or "Quite Interested'' to have a connected home. Therefore businesses should take advantage of this opportunity to develop innovative and integrated end-to-end solutions for the homes and community.

Improves Quality Of Life

Secondly, Connected Homes will enable us to improve our quality of life. With seamless connectivity within the home, to and from the home, and within the community, people can access resources for work, learning and entertainment all from the convenience of their home. A survey on broadband usage in Singapore conducted in November last year reported an increase in the use of interactive applications like music downloads, webcasts and online games. Almost half of the respondents read and watched newscasts online, and about a third of them play online games. However, the use of broadband for e-learning and telecommuting is still low at around 6%. There is hence a huge potential for development in this area.

With the Connected homes, the boundaries of where you access the content and how you use it will diminish as the portability of content and services widens. You can access corporate resources from home and engage in net meetings with colleagues. You can purchase tickets and book community facilities through your mobile phone. You can also remotely control your home automation system while at work. This "always-connected", "always-on" connectivity will help to deepen the usage for such applications and services, and help improve the overall quality of life.

Improves Opportunites To Wider Society

Lastly, one of the key outcomes of Connected Homes Programme will be improving opportunities for the wider society. It took thirty-eight years for television to reach fifty million users and it took the Internet only five years to reach the same number of users. In no time, connectivity and PC computing devices will be as common as household items and this will provide people with the ability to access global resources, information and knowledge. Anyone will be able to enjoy the experience of creation and visualisation of ideas. Being connected also enables him or her to communicate, share and exchange ideas and information with people anywhere in the world. People will no longer be disadvantaged through lack of knowledge or information.

I believe many of you have seen the local production "I not stupid" and have empathized with the plight of EM3 pupils. In the past, these pupils did badly in projects because they had problems getting the necessary content for the work, and even when they did find the right content, their language skills got in the way. It was also difficult for teachers to concentrate on the content when there were glaring spelling and grammatical errors. Now these schools are able to use digital cameras, video cameras and digital microscopes for their projects, Students can interview the people in their local neighbourhoods as part of their project, and submit their homework online. What is important is the creativity these students demonstrate in asking the questions and putting the content together. The students also felt motivated and achieved a sense of accomplishment with their creative expression. They felt that they had achieved fame because their work is showcased on the Internet for the world, and their parents to appreciate!

The development of connected homes will provide the impetus to enable equal opportunities for the wider society, to access global resources, information and knowledge.

Challenges Ahead

The prospects therefore of connected homes in Singapore are good. However, in moving ahead, we have to acknowledge that there are challenges that the industry will face.

To begin with, industry players currently work independently of each other to develop equipment, products or services . Products and service offerings are not interoperable and there are no clear standards. Industry players offer only fragmented solutions, which do not provide consumers with the value they are looking for. Consumers are still sceptical and uncertain about the viability and potential of home networking.

Secondly, there is a lack of market knowledge and information. Industry players do not have an in-depth understanding of the needs and usage behaviour of home users, and how they would like their connected homes and lifestyles to be. This poses a challenge for the industry to determine the kinds of products and services that will accelerate the take-up rate.

As a result, no clear business models have emerged. This will hence prove difficult for companies to move towards driving mass-market adoption. It is therefore important for companies to determine the combination of products and services that will generate greater returns in revenue.

The Connected Homes Programme was launched two weeks ago by IDA's Chairman Mr Lam Chuan Leong during the Singapore ONE Commemorative event and it aims to do the following:
a. First, to help the industry identify applicable solutions from which home users and industry players will garner the greatest value.
b. Second, to identify potential barriers that may impede large-scale deployment of products and solutions, for example, interoperability issues. The programme will potentially help to address some of these issues.
c. Third, to provide platforms to facilitate partnerships and collaboration among industry partners, and hence promote joint developments.
d. And lastly to help educate and inform the consumers of potential benefits of connected homes.

It will also provide a real test-bed environment for industry partners to test, develop and pilot their solutions to actual home users. Through the pilot, we hope that the industry will be able to:
a. Hone and modify their products and solutions to better meet market needs.
b. Collaborate and complement each other so as to deliver a better whole product; reduce costs through integration; and transfer or develop capabilities and skills.
c. Develop viable business models so that solutions can be implemented on a larger scale and potentially can be export out of Singapore.

Today's call for collaboration exercise will the first in the series of activities that IDA will put together to provide opportunities for companies to participate in the development of connected homes in Singapore. Through the Connected Homes programme, we hope that companies will be able to gain sufficient insight to enable the rollout of commercially viable products and services.

Echoing this is the call made by our Acting Minister David Lim two days ago at the National Infocomm Awards. Our companies should make use of the infrastructure that we have put in place, to maximise the value that connectivity brings. The Connected Homes pilot will enable us to determine what that value is, and how we can deliver this value as quickly and effectively as possible. This will drive industry growth, corporate profitability and position Singapore as a leading player in the global Infocomm arena.

Thank you. I wish all of you a fruitful session and success, as we roll out Connected Homes solutions together.