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Broadband Access: A defining technology of our Age

Lam Chuan Leong, Chairman, IDA Singapore - Speech SP Telecom Market Trial for Powerline Communication (PLC), SP Building Singapore, 11 April 2002

Lam Chuan Leong, Chairman, IDA Singapore - Speech
SP Telecom Market Trial for Powerline Communication (PLC), SP Building
Singapore, 11 April 2002

RADM (Retired) Kwek Siew Jin, President of Singapore Power,
Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning.

I am most delighted to join you all today to witness the launch of the market trial of Powerline Communications for two reasons.

First, it is one more step towards Singapore's aim to harness Infocomm technology to help drive innovation and value creation. One objective of IDA's Infocomm 21 is to help bring IT to everyone at home, work or school. This PLC venture is therefore most welcome.

Second, the use of Powerline for data communications is something new to Singapore. With this new channel, we will see a maturing of the broadband market and more competition, which is good for everyone.

On the first point of harnessing Infocomm technology for value creation, it is clear that broadband is an indispensable part of doing business today. Almost every company now has a website that promotes its products and services with all sorts of fanciful graphics and 3D animations. These sort of fanciful demonstrations work best with broadband. Those companies that do not have them stand to lose even their past loyal customers. In today's cluttered market place, if your product information does not reach your customers fast and in an attractive manner, you will soon lose your customers' attention. And as customers increasingly enjoy the taste of broadband, their attention span will shorten; they will not be willing to waiting for 20 or 30 minutes to download a file to read about your products.

For businesses with world wide operations, internal sharing of intra-company information and intra-company mail is obviously best conducted on broadband. No doubt, we still have to dial in laboriously from some overseas location to read our emails, but increasingly hotels are providing broadband connectivity for their guests. And as wireless broadband becomes available, we will increasingly be able to enjoy mobile broadband anywhere.

New businesses in the entertainment, games and media world have sprung up to provide entertainment through broadband. This is an area where broadband has spawned a whole new industry.

Our surveys have shown that business adoption of broadband in Singapore has become widespread. This is a very promising sign because if we lag behind in the adoption of broadband, we risk lagging behind others in doing business in general. Adoption of broadband access is widespread at home as well, but there is room for increasing the subscription rate.

As for the innovative use of powerlines for broadband, the significance is that it provides another means to deliver broadband. Till now, we have only been able to offer DSL, cable, ATM and fibre. With PLC, the customer will have more choices. PLC has the advantage of being "always on" and any power socket in the office, school or home is potentially a broadband access point; there is no need to hack the walls to run cables again.

With the entry of PLC, we will see more competition which, I believe, is good for everyone. We have seen how competition has driven down costs in the telecommunications sector and caused more options and services to be offered to the consumer. No doubt those, who work in the industry, will feel that they have to work harder to compete. However, we should remember that all of us are in the end consumers as well and as consumers, more competition means more value for our hard-earned money.

But there is a more important reason. And that is - broadband is becoming a defining technology of this age. What do I mean by this?

If you arrive at a new unknown country and discover that the country has no road or highways; merely dirt roads, what would you conclude? Obviously that is a third world country. So today modern roads and highways constitute a technology that defines the status of that country. If a country does not have them, it must be backward; its economy cannot sustain a high standard of living.

In that sense, broadband is becoming a new defining technology of our age. So by offering our citizens more broadband access, you are contributing to a worthy cause of advancing our nation to the league of the developed countries.

Therefore, I sincerely wish you all, SP Telecommunications, together with Little Green Apples and Pacific Internet, every success in your efforts and look forward to a commercial roll-out for Singapore soon.

Thank you.