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Speech by Ms Aileen Chia at the Opening Ceremony of the 41st Public Meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)

20 June 2011 - Speech by Ms Aileen Chia, Deputy Director-General (Telecoms & Post), Infocomm Development Authority, at the Opening Ceremony of the 41st Public Meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), at Raffles City Convention Centre

Speech by Ms Aileen Chia, Deputy Director-General (Telecoms & Post), Infocomm Development Authority, at the Opening Ceremony of the 41st Public Meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), on 20 June 2011, at Raffles City Convention Centre

Ms Grace Fu, Senior Minister of State for Information, Communications and the Arts,

Mr Peter Dengate Thrush, Chairman of the ICANN Board,

Mr Rod Beckstrom, CEO of ICANN,

Ladies and Gentlemen, good morning.

Global Industry Landscape

1. In the last decade, the world of infocomm has witnessed innovations that have brought about pervasive and profound changes to our everyday work, life and play. Internet Protocol or IP-based services and applications connecting people, businesses and communities, are offering a diverse suite of information services, communication and productivity tools, commerce opportunities, entertainment options, and more. The deployment of high-speed fixed-line and mobile broadband networks has brought the Internet to everyone and everywhere, and has accelerated these transformational changes.

2. The Internet today has become an integral part of our daily lives. Many organisations have regarded it as a critical infrastructure for the success of their businesses and many individuals rely heavily on it for their personal communication, for information, news, making purchases and making "friends". The Internet has brought together the traditionally separate worlds of infocomm, broadcast and media and has brought about a new era of convergence. The success of the Internet is in large part due to its unique model of shared global ownership, open-standard development and easily accessible processes for technology and policy development.

Multi-Stakeholder Approach

3. Singapore has always maintained that Internet governance must be "inclusive and responsive" and it is not the sole domain of governments. IDA recognises the benefits of a partnership approach where governments, industry and civil society work together to shape the development of the Internet. Broadly speaking, the government's role would be to implement policies that would ensure citizens' access to a safe and secure Internet and to create a conducive environment for service providers and operators to provide innovative services and enhance the infrastructure. The private sector would be best placed to deal with technical, technology and the commercial aspects of the Internet architecture, while civil society organisations and individual communities would have a role in creating relevant content and community services that cater to the needs and situations of different societies, while promoting responsible use of the Internet.

4. Over the years, ICANN has played an important role in the development of the Internet through its multi-stakeholder approach. It has served as an important catalyst in allowing active and purposeful participation of all ICANN stakeholders and the broader Internet community, and has provided an effective platform to facilitate community consensus building in the formulation of many ICANN's policies, initiatives and activities that have brought about significant progress. The holistic and shared responsibility approach taken by ICANN has generally worked well for the development of the Internet to date. For sustainable development going forward, it is important that we continue to engage the many voices affecting and being affected by the Internet.

New gTLD Programme

5. A clear demonstration of this multi-stakeholder approach is ICANN's new Generic Top Level Domain Name or gTLD Programme, which will potentially see the introduction of numerous new gTLDs like ".shop", ".car" and ".movie" into the Internet. We have come a long way and I know many of us in this room have worked very hard and have played an important role in bringing this piece of work to where it is today. We are now very close to seeing the new gTLD Programme come to fruition. Thanks to the collaborative efforts of ICANN, the Generic Names Supporting Organisation (gNSO), Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), Country-Code Names Supporting Organisation (ccNSO), At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) and others, who have worked together painstakingly to address and resolve many complex issues.

6. The many principles and policy discussions that have been developed over the last three years arising from the development of the new gTLD framework can also serve as useful references for the Country Code Top Level Domain or ccTLD community to adapt and fine-tune their local policies to make them more robust and effective.


7. Another example of this multi-stakeholder approach is the enabling of multi-lingual TLDs. The Internet today is no longer monolingual as it was when first commercialised in the early 1990s. The Internet community recognised the need to embrace language diversity and to bring about a multilingual platform to cater to the language preferences and needs of different peoples around the world.

8. We applaud both ICANN and the international community's efforts, over the last 10 years, in bringing Internationalised Domain Names (IDN) to fruition. IDN initiatives and developmental work started as early as the 1990s. Since then, the community has worked co-operatively to overcome various challenges, be they technical, policy, economic or social. It is heartening to note that the perseverance of the pioneer researchers, including those from the National University of Singapore, has now benefitted so many countries in introducing IDNs to meet their diverse needs in language and culture at the domestic front. To date, there have been more than 30 application requests for IDN ccTLDs and at least 20 countries have had their IDN ccTLDs delegated to them.

9. I am pleased to highlight that Singapore launched its Chinese and Tamil IDN ccTLDs last week and registrations for these IDNs will commence from July onwards. We are confident that the launch of IDN ccTLD will greatly benefit end-users, especially businesses which need to reach out to communities who predominantly use Chinese or Tamil as their working language.

Net Neutrality

10. With the proliferation of the Internet and its many services, another issue has sprung up in recent years - Net Neutrality. Simplistically, Net Neutrality refers to Internet service or network providers treating all sources of Internet content equally, and the right of a consumer to access content and services on the Internet on a non-discriminatory basis. Our approach to this is a balanced one that allows consumers reasonable access to the Internet, and at the same time provides businesses and telecom operators with sufficient commercial flexibility to differentiate their services. Our stance on net neutrality hinges on a three-pronged approach.

11. The first is to enhance and promote competition among retail service providers in the market, to allow market forces to drive operator behaviour. Competition can also reduce the incentives of operators to engage in practices that restrict consumer choice in terms of what is accessible over the Internet. To this end, Singapore's Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network or Next Gen NBN has been structured in an open access manner, with structural and operational (or functional) separation requirements, to catalyse services competition in the next generation environment. This is accompanied by the regulatory framework on interconnection and competition, which checks discriminatory practices.

12. The second prong is to increase information transparency for consumers to make informed choices on Internet access services. Issues like traffic management, or the discrepancies between actual and advertised Internet access speeds, have often been cited as issues that affect the surfing experience, but remain opaque to consumers. In the past few years, IDA has imposed requirements on residential broadband service providers to publish their network management practices, so that consumers know and can better choose their service providers based on their surfing needs. We are glad that service providers in Singapore are moving in this direction and are beginning to publish the typical access speeds. On our own, IDA also regularly tests and publishes on our website the performance of broadband services in Singapore to help consumers navigate the variety of broadband service choices in the market.

13. The third prong is to ensure that consumers enjoy a reasonable quality of access to the Internet. In this respect, IDA prohibits operators from blocking legitimate Internet content. Since 2001, IDA has also imposed Quality of Service requirements on fixed line broadband services, including maximum latency prescriptions for local and international network access. We believe IDA is the first, if not one of the first few regulators, in the world to have done so.


14. While the Internet has brought significant benefits to our economies and societies, it is clear that there are areas of challenges and unfinished work which the international community should continue to work on so that businesses and consumers can continue to benefit from the Internet. We should continue to develop and review our policies and frameworks to bring about an Internet that will encourage greater innovation, secure use and inclusiveness.

15. In closing, I would like to extend my best wishes for your many discussions taking place in the coming week, which will have an impact on the workings of the Internet across the world. I wish you a successful ICANN 41st meeting and at the same time, an enjoyable stay in Singapore.

16. Thank you.