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

Wired With Wireless : Innovation Through Pilots and Trials

Philip Heah, Director, Innovation and Wireless Division, IDA Singapore - Speech Nokia Partnership Series #1 (M Commerce), Grand Hyatt Hotel Singapore, 16 April 2002

Philip Heah, Director, Innovation and Wireless Division, IDA Singapore - Speech Nokia Partnership Series #1 (M Commerce), Grand Hyatt Hotel
Singapore, 16 April 2002

Mr Robert Andersson,
Media and analyst friends,
Distinguished partners and guests,
A very good afternoon to you.


First of all, I would like to thank Nokia for inviting me to be part of their Partnership series today. Like everybody else, I am looking forward to some of the presentations ahead so I will try to keep my segment as short as possible.

The Value of Pilots And Trials

Some 125 years ago when Alexander Graham Bell invented the transmitters that are still being used in telephone systems today. This was not the result of a new revolutionary idea but it was in fact an adaptation of a failed undersea telegraph system that Thomas Edison was trying to develop in his days. The innovative adaptation of one's failed idea to create the success of another emphasizes the fact that a technology innovation does not happen in one big spike but is made up of successive attempts to learn from previous mistakes and make constant modifications.

However, in the fast moving high tech industry today, the learning cycle is greatly shortened and the failures of new technology products are not in the technical capabilities but in the manner of which it is deployed to the masses.

This is where the value of providing pilot and trial for companies to test their products before mass-market rollout is. We are all probably familiar with the technology adoption life cycle. Early adopters ask "why a certain technology has not been deployed ?". The mass market, on the other hand, will ask questions like "what's in it for me ?", "who else is using it ?" and "is it easy to use ?". Pilots and trials are therefore useful in establishing credible references, which the pragmatist early majority is looking for. In addition, it is a process where products and services can fine tuned so that it can be ready for the mass markets.

Our host today, Nokia, is no stranger to such innovation, having many world's firsts, such as:

a) In 1997, Nokia provided the world's first interactive telematics wireless healthcare tool for supporting the treatment of chronic diseases like diabetes; and

b) In 1998, the Nokia Communicator 9110 also became the world's first hand-held mobile device to support wireless imaging;

and the list goes on.

Mobile Payment Trials In Singapore

With a view of helping m-commerce cross the technology adoption chasm, the IDA issued a Call for Collaboration or CFC to the industry on Mobile Payment Solutions in May last year. At the close of the call, we received a total of 21 proposals out of which 4 were awarded, including the consortium led by Nokia.

The proposed trials range from remote payments via SMS, WAP and Interactive Voice Response to localized payments via infra red, bluetooth and RF ID. Accepted payment method modes for the trials include credit cards, direct debit and stored value cards.

You may be pleased to know of 2 significant developments related to this initiative:

a) Firstly, in July last year, our operators, SingTel Mobile, StarHub Mobile and MobileOne collaborated to develop a common platform to trial mPayment services. The significance of this to the merchants is that they will not need to invest in different interfaces while the consumers does not have to bear the unnecessary costs of being tied to a particular cellular network.

b) Secondly, the consortium led by Nokia also presently offers 2 innovative trials involving:
- Asia's first wireless PKI trial through the use of GPRS and a dual-chip set handset in partnership with DBS in Singapore; as well as
- An RFID-based contactless payment solution with NETS.

I must also say that despite the post-911 economic downturn, we still have exciting developments in Singapore's wireless arena. One of such is the School Bus Tracking and Monitoring System pilot project launched on 18 March this year, involving the collaboration of Unity Wireless Integration (S) Pte Ltd, Anglo-Chinese Junior School, parents and the school bus operator. Through this project, Unity Wireless is able to test bed the innovative use of GPRS in fleet management as well as on-board monitoring system that is designed to be network-independent.

While the success of pilots and trials is important, companies conducting or with the intent to conduct pilots and trials should use this invaluable experience as an opportunity to hone their products or services and gain market insights.

A Living Lab In Singapore

With these trials going on in a various hotspots in Singapore within real user or business environments, Singapore's position as a living lab is reinforced through our enterprising society and constant appetite for better alternatives.

Results of a joint study by AT Kearney and the University of Cambridge released in March this year cites that Singaporeans use SMS most frequently. Out of 5,666 cell phone users surveyed in Asia, Europe and the US, 52 per cent of cell phone users in Singapore use SMS more than once a day compared to the global average of 23 per cent. Therefore, there is an appetite for sophisticated uses of the phone and its applications as well as potentially a significant impact on mobile commerce in Singapore.

Our multi-racial, English-speaking community makes Singapore a good reference market for Asia, over and on top the compact population that allows for faster feedback and ROI for pilots and trials rolled out of Singapore. Within this year, the public can also look forward to more of such pilots and trials involving mobile workforce as well as the use of J2ME-based platforms.

Beyond Pilots And Trials

The challenge in the making of an innovation lies not in just making it a success within the lab environment but also in a real user environment. Therefore, through IDA's Wired With Wireless Pilot and Trial Hotspots or PATH initiative, we hope to catalyze wireless industry developments in two ways:

a) Firstly, to encourage Singapore-based players to try out innovative ideas, then gain better insights to market needs that enable them to "go to market" with commercially viable products and services in Singapore and globally; and

b) Secondly, partners in the global wireless space are welcomed to leverage Singapore's players and form strategic alliances using Singapore as a launch pad for wireless products and services in Asia.


In closing, I wish to thank Nokia for hosting this event as well as having paved the way for some of the most innovative pilots and trials out of Singapore. We look forward to more of such collaborative efforts in using Singapore as a test bed and development platform for wireless technologies.

I would like to thank you for your patience and here's wishing all a pleasant afternoon.