20 June 2006 - Opening Address By Dr Lee Boon Yang, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts At the Official Opening Ceremony at the Infocomm Media Business Exchange 2006, Singapore Expo.
Opening Address By Dr Lee Boon Yang, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts At the Official Opening Ceremony at the Infocomm Media Business Exchange 2006 on 20 June 2006, Singapore Expo.
Ladies and gentlemen.
1. Good morning. May I first extend a warm welcome to Hon Ministers, participants, exhibitors and delegates to the Infocomm Media Business Exchange or imbX2006. This year’s edition of imbX has attracted more than 2,300 exhibiting companies and will welcome more than 60,000 visitors from over 60 countries. We are delighted with this level of interest and support from infocomm industry players at home and abroad. imbX has proven to be an excellent opportunity for the public and private sectors to engage in a review of the trends in infocomm and the latest technology developments as well as to explore business opportunities and partnerships.
2. The outlook for the infocomm sector is bright with continued growth on the back of rising demand by governments, businesses and consumers for infocomm technologies, products and services. The corporate sector for instance is expected to tap infocomm in nearly every aspect of business activity ranging from process control, supply chain management, customer relations management, financial control and R&D. Governments will increasingly tap infocomm technologies to enhance efficiency and provision of on-line e-services. Consumer demand for infocomm services and products is best exemplified by the incredibly rapid growth in mobile phone penetration. In India, mobile subscription is growing at the rate of about 4 million units a month, and exceeded 101 million last month. China already has 415 million mobile phone users and the number is growing by more than 5 million a month. Hence it is no surprise that a recent report by International Data Corp, IDC, estimated that IT spending in the Asia-Pacific region, excluding Japan, is expected to grow by 52 per cent to reach US$162.5 billion by 2010. The infocomm sector can therefore look forward confidently to sustained growth for many more years.
3. Such rapid growth and fast pace of technological changes will undoubtedly throw up new challenges for governments and regulators of the telecommunications sector. Hence in conjunction with imbX 2006, infocomm Ministers and senior officials from 12 countries in Asia, the Middle East and the EU met yesterday to exchange views on one of the most exciting development, namely the shift towards Next Generation Networks and services. This new technology unify telecommunications and Internet-based infrastructure and services and enables users to seamlessly and speedily access any network, service provider or service of their choice. We discussed and agreed that governments can play a role in promoting the transition from existing traditional platforms to the Next Generation Networks. We also noted that enhancing inter-connectivity and citizens’ access to NGN will contribute to economic progress, create new business and employment opportunities and bring about social development.
Singapore’s response: iN2015
4. Singapore is also looking ahead at the type of infrastructure and technologies that could support the changing needs of the government, businesses and society in the next 10 years and beyond. Last year, I had announced that the Media Development Authority (MDA) would be working with our broadcasting companies to commence a High Definition or HDTV trial. I am happy to inform you that the trial has been launched. We have not just one, but two ongoing HDTV trials – over terrestrial and digital cable. This makes Singapore the first country in Southeast Asia to launch HDTV trial. About 2000 homes are participating in these trials and the results will help us to deploy HDTV to all Singaporean homes in the years ahead.
5. Last year, we also announced that the government is working with the industry to jointly develop an infocomm masterplan for Singapore. We have spent a year to gather input and feedback from the private, public and people sectors to enable us to define the vision, the challenges and the strategy to transform Singapore into an Intelligent Nation and a Global City powered by infocomm by 2015.
6. Today I am very happy to launch this masterplan which we call Intelligent Nation 2015 or “iN twenty-fifteen”. Innovation, integration and internationalisation will be the basis of our masterplan. The capacity to innovate and create new business models, solutions and services will enable Singapore to be more competitive in a globalised environment. Equally important is the ability to integrate resources and capabilities for economic progress and digital opportunities for all Singaporeans.
7. iN2015 will set us on the path to becoming a global leader in harnessing infocomm to add value to the economy and society. We aim to double the value-add of the infocomm industry to S$26 billion; and generate a three-fold increase in our infocomm export revenue to S$60 billion. We aim to create 80,000 additional infocomm and infocomm-related jobs. We target for 90 per cent of homes using broadband access as well as 100 per cent computer ownership for all homes with school-going children by 2015.
Directions and Strategies
8. Let me now describe our strategies for the years ahead. The building of the Next Generation National Infocomm Infrastructure is the first key initiative under the iN2015 Masterplan. Our Next Generation National Infocomm Infrastructure will be built upon a wired network that offers ultra-high speeds from 100 megabits per second to more than 1 Gigabit per second, to connect all homes, schools and businesses, including those in the HDB heartlands and private developments. This will support an increasingly digital economy and lifestyle with demand for high bandwidth applications such as High Definition IPTV, immersive video conferencing, digital learning and telemedicine. To complement the wired network for broadband access, we will work with the private sector to install a pervasive and integrated wireless network island-wide to provide users with affordable and constant connectivity, no matter where they are. We will offer broadband connectivity anywhere, anytime and on any device.
9. Since I announced in March this year that Singapore will develop this new infrastructure, many industry players, both local and foreign, have responded with very innovative and interesting proposals for our NGNII. The Wireless Broadband Market Development Call for Collaboration generated great interest from Singapore's wireless industry, with IDA receiving nine proposals. We can expect the successful bidders to roll out pervasive wireless broadband networks from this December, starting from the primary catchments such as the Central Business District, the major shopping belt in Orchard Road to the major residential areas at HDB town centres. Some providers have also proposed to add Wi-Max and broadband cellular solutionson top of their Wi-Fi offering, allowing for seamless transition to newer broadband technologies as they are commercialised. There are also proposals offering free access for basic 512kbps wireless broadband services with paid plans for access speeds of 1Mbps or more. We are excited by these propositions and possibilities. IDA will review them and announce the winning bids by September 2006.
10. I am also happy to share that we are on track with Singapore's Next Generation National Broadband Network (NBN). IDA’s Request for Concept (RFC), which closed just last Thursday (15 June), drew an overwhelming 33 submissions from established telcos and vendors, both local and foreign. These submissions from industry signal strong interest and support for Singapore’s intention to facilitate the rollout of a new NBN. Fibre was the solution of choice amongst the respondents, with some leading technology and solution providers also submitting ideas on how to deploy the network cost-effectively, while posing minimal disruptions to residents. The submissions will help IDA formulate the specifications for the Request For Proposal (RFP) due later this year. The RFP will invite the private sector to build, own and operate the network through a public-private partnership. The Next Gen NBN is expected to be completed by 2012.
11. The second key strategy of iN2015 is to help strengthen the Singapore infocomm Industry to compete more effectively internationally with innovative “Made-by-Singapore” products, services and solutions.
12. One such marketable product is Singapore’s e-Government solutions. Our proven track record in developing and implementing innovative e-Government solutions over the last 25 years has helped our local enterprises on the world market. We have also received many requests for Singapore to share our experience and help other governments implement e-Government. To this end, we will be setting up the Singapore e-Government Leadership Centre for training of industry and government personnel. This centre is a joint-effort between IDA, the National University of Singapore’s Institute of Systems Science and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. The centre will be launched later this year. It aims to be a world-class leader in e-Government education, research and consulting. It will track development in the e-Government sector and will deliver dynamic executive management programmes with the objective to inspire the government leaders to lead and transform public administration and everyday life through digital technologies. Such executive programmes will cover topics relating to public policy, ICT policy and management and case studies in innovative e-Government.
13. The third key strategy of iN2015 aims to develop an infocomm savvy workforce and globally competitive infocomm talent pool in Singapore. Talent is a scarce resource all over the world. We will nurture and develop infocomm talent to take on higher value-added activities such as creating infocomm solutions and R&D. We will nurture a pool of techno-strategists who have both the technical and business expertise to achieve organisational goals through strategic and innovative use of infocomm.
14. The final key strategy for iN2015 is to harness infocomm technologies to give our economy a competitive edge. Specifically, we are looking at sectors like financial services, manufacturing and logistics, and tourism, hospitality and retail where technology will help to improve business processes. Similarly for sectors like the government, digital media entertainment, education, healthcare and biomedical sciences, we will be developing innovative and personalised services to improve the way we work, live, learn and play.
15. I must emphasise that the iN2015 Masterplan is not only about economic competitiveness. We will also be exploring ways to ensure that the elderly, less-privileged and disabled can also enjoy connected and enriched lives for self-improvement and life-long learning. This is to bridge the digital divide and create opportunities for all. For instance, the elderly can be connected at home to enjoy convenient real-time quality online medical services. Infocomm technologies can also be used to re-design jobs to accommodate older workers and people with disabilities. For the less privileged students, we will strive to ensure that every household with school-going children will have a computer with internet access.
16. Life in 2015 will be the realisation of infocomm’s promise of an interconnected world with information and services easily accessible to all. Education will go beyond the classrooms. Imagine virtual classrooms where students can connect to a plethora of education services and institutions from every corner of the planet to enrich their learning. Imagine visiting a clinic where the doctor can access your entire medical history online so that prompt and better informed diagnoses can be made. Finally, imagine when visiting Singapore in 2015, you can have the service of a virtual personal guide to inform and advise on your every need. The possibilities are tremendous and there are many that we have yet to imagine today.
17. I encourage the industry and all the innovators in the private sector, to join us in our infocomm journey over the next ten years. To realise our iN2015 vision, we are determined to innovate relentlessly and turn possibilities into reality. Let us work together to be at the forefront of developing innovative products and services.
18. In conclusion, iN2015 will be our masterplan to foster innovation, integration and internationalisation in our infocomm sector. It will help us to realise our vision of transforming Singapore into An Intelligent Nation and A Global City powered by infocomm.
19. I would like to thank all the local and overseas participants for attending imbX 2006. I also wish you a fruitful and rewarding time at this show.
20. Hon Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen, it now gives me great pleasure to declare imbX 2006 open. Thank you.