26 May 2011 - Opening Speech By Khoong Hock Yun, Assistant Chief Executive, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, At Unwired Conference 2011, Amara Hotel Ballroom
Opening Speech By Khoong Hock Yun, Assistant Chief Executive, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, At Unwired Conference 2011, 26 May 2011, Amara Hotel Ballroom, 13:30 pm
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good afternoon. It is a great pleasure for me to be here today at this opening of Unwired Conference 2011. I hope that today's conference will not only broaden your views of the industry but also provide a platform for co-creation of new opportunities in the "unwired" world.
Singapore's Wireless Landscape Today
The wireless market in Singapore has seen rapid growth over the last couple of years, with the mobile phone transforming from an accessory to a lifestyle necessity. As of Mar 2011, Singapore's mobile phone penetration rate was at 145.5 per cent compared to 102.8 per cent five years ago - a compound annual growth rate of over 7 per cent. 3G networks have been rolled out by all our mobile operators since 2005, and we have an estimated 7,500 public Wi-Fi hotspots in high human traffic areas in Singapore.
Today, consumers in Singapore are also spoilt for choices of wireless broadband plans, devices and mobile applications. Compared with the mobile landscape in 2005, wireless broadband plans are now much more attractive and affordable, with higher surfing speeds at lower cost. Consumers also have access to a wide range of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets that enable them to have the freedom to communicate, work, socialise and access multimedia wherever, and whenever, they want. With the popularity of app stores, there is no shortage of mobile content and applications that people can access and download.
Key Trends in Wireless
As in the past, innovation in the wireless world will likely continue unabated. We will likely want to find ways to remain even more connected while "on the move". To ensure that Singapore's wireless broadband market continues to remain vibrant, we see some trends that we could potentially capitalise for further growth, and develop as part of Singapore's wireless ecosystem. I will now highlight three key ones.
The first trend is the unprecedented surge in mobile data usage that we are seeing today, driven by the increasing usage of smartphones and mobile devices like tablets. Cisco has estimated that mobile data traffic will grow at 92 per cent a year till 2015, reaching 6.3 exabytes per month by 2015. Making up the bulk of that growth will be video traffic, which will account for two-thirds of the world's mobile data, by 2015. But the exponential growth of wireless data usage will place enormous stress on our wireless networks and its technological solutions.
The amount of mobile data traffic generated will drive the demand for spectrum and spur continued innovations in wireless network technologies to provide more capacity and higher quality of service. Some operators in the world have begun to deploy 4G or Long Term Evolution (LTE) technologies to boost the speed and capacity of their mobile networks. Experts are already looking into technologies beyond LTE, such as LTE-Advanced, which promises very significant increases in wireless broadband speeds, through intelligent antennas and network architectures. Operators are considering a variety of strategies to better manage the capacity crunch; such strategies include Wi-Fi to offload cellular data traffic, implementing tiered pricing models and various network optimisation techniques.
A second trend relates to the increasing number of objects that are connected to the Internet. Adding to such an "internet of things" are wireless modules which are smaller in size and possess more powerful computational capabilities, bringing wireless connectivity into products other than handsets, such as cars, cameras, gaming devices, machines and consumer appliances. According to ABI Research, the cellular M2M connectivity market is forecast to grow from 71.3 million connections on a global basis in 2009 to approximately 297.1 million connections in 2015. These connected devices will create a large pool of information resources available for development of new software, services and analysis, opening new business opportunities and markets for solution providers, application developers, systems integrators and operators.
A third trend is end users are increasingly basing their adoption choices on a subjective experience factor and less on an objective price versus functionality considerations. Even as the world and technologies becomes more complex, to many engineers' dismay, end users require devices or applications to provide user experiences derived from aspects like simplicity, intuitiveness, personalised, elegance in design, and trustworthiness. With the huge amount of information generated from devices connected to the Internet, we can expect that complex data processing will take place outside of the mobile device, and through powerful servers in the background. New types of applications that are intelligent and context-aware will then continuously aggregate data from the cloud and present relevant information based on users' locations, social networks, and lifestyle preferences. In order to deliver this new level of personalisation and interactivity, future interfaces such as mobile displays, will need to have simple, intuitive and elegant designs to present complex information in a way that is trusted and easily accessible, therefore, creating an engaging experience for the user.
How IDA Is Facilitating a Vibrant Wireless Broadband Market
Indeed, with the rapid development of mobile and wireless technologies, we see that the industry is presented with new strategies and opportunities much like five years ago when IDA launched Singapore's iN2015 masterplan, with the vision for Singapore to be an intelligent nation and a global city powered by infocomm. A key component of the iN2015 masterplan is the development of the Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network or the Next Gen NBN. The Next Gen NBN serves as a foundation for Singapore's digital future. The new ultra high-speed optical fibre network will enable Singapore to gain a competitive edge in an increasingly globalised and connected world. With the deployment of the Next Gen NBN that began in 2009 and the 60 per cent nationwide coverage as at Dec 2010, we are on track to put in place a nationwide, open access, ultra-high speed broadband network by mid-2012.
To complement the Next Gen NBN, IDA put in place a nationwide Wireless Broadband Network to extend Next Gen services wirelessly to fulfil the people's mobility needs. Singapore's nationwide Wi-Fi programme, Wireless@SG, is an early iN2015 initiative to catalyze and build up the Wireless Broadband Market. The programme continues to gain popularity and we have seen usage hours increase more than six times since the service was launched. As Singaporeans become more Internet-savvy and at ease with the mobile lifestyle, we have continued to ensure that Wireless@SG remains relevant as a free community broadband access platform. Over the past two years, we enhanced Wireless@SG's access speed and introduced the Seamless and Secure Access feature to enable users to login automatically and securely so that they can conveniently access social networking and location-based services whenever they enter a Wireless@SG hotspot.
For cellular networks, IDA is paving the way for a faster 4G rollout in Singapore, given that 4G, as the next generation of ultra high-speed communication, will offer end users higher data rates and lower latency. We will be re-allocating the 2.3 GHz and 2.5 GHz spectrum for 4G as early as next year, and have allowed the three mobile operators to deploy LTE on their existing Wireless Broadband Access and 2G mobile telephony bands. Moving forward, there is scope to do more to meet Singapore's increasing mobile communications needs. We are always open to exchange innovative business ideas and develop new opportunities with you.
As an example of how we grew the local mobile applications market, in June last year, we launched the Applications-on-Multi-Platforms Simplify, or AMPlify, initiative to allow local mobile applications developers to gain advanced technical skills, training and hands-on experience with leading mobile MNC partners. Local developers will also be given the opportunity to leverage partners' channels to market the solutions they have developed during this training period.
IDA recognises the phenomenon of mobility, which is transforming our lives. We are placing strong emphasis in this important area and will continue to pay close attention to the challenges faced by the mobile industry. To ensure that Singapore remains at the forefront, appropriate strategies will be developed in the areas of spectrum, infrastructure, technology, devices, applications and services to ensure that Singapore's future mobile communication needs are well addressed.
On that note, I wish you all a fruitful conference ahead.