Posts Tagged Singapore

New Asian customer put in spotlight at Web in Travel 2010

Wednesday, 14 July 2010
Media Asia Booming
Facebook Travel Internet

The new Asian customer and the way she plans, books and buys travel will be in the spotlight at this year’s Web In Travel conference taking place in Singapore in October.

“There is a new customer emerging in Asia,” said Yeoh Siew Hoon, owner of the conference. “She is extremely value-conscious and tech-savvy in the way she seeks and accesses information on the web, comparing not only prices but also what other people are saying about a product or service.

“Game-changing gadgets such as the iPhone or the iPad, social networks such as Facebook and travel review sites such as TripAdvisor are just some of the factors that are influencing traveller behaviour across the region.

“We also have a very Internet-savvy and mobile-connected generation of customers emerging in Asia. In July, Asia became the largest producer of tweets on Twitter and some of Facebook’s biggest growth markets are found in the region.”

This, she said, explains why TripAdvisor, the biggest travel review site in the world, and Facebook are setting up regional headquarters in Singapore.

Social networking activity is on the rise in Asia, as tracked by comScore, the global company that gathers digital media intelligence, showing that 50.8 percent of the total online population in the Asia-Pacific region visited a social networking site in February 2010, reaching a total of 240.3 million visitors.

Brett Henry, Vice President Marketing, Abacus International, the travel technology company which processes most of the region’s air reservations, said, “The people going to social networks are no longer just the younger generation. Granted that in Asia, there is still a market for the 50s and above who are less Internet savvy and prefer to book offline. But if you project ahead, in a decade or less, the Internet and social media savvy Generation C will be ruling the world.”

In India, for instance, more than one-third of its total Internet population visit travel sites with comScore reporting that top online travel brands are seeing double and triple-digit growth as consumers take to the web in search of deals.

AirAsia’s Facebook fan page grew from zero members to more than 200,000 within a year and now stands at 339,009 members.

Said Kathleen Tan, regional head of commercial for the airline group which will fly its 100th million passenger by the fourth quarter of this year, “With an average of 6,500 fans and over 33,000 visits to our fan page weekly, we know that they are taking us seriously on the social media front.”

Said Yeoh, “Everyone recognises the huge travel demand there is in Asia, not only in the major population areas of China and India, but also across the whole of South-east and North Asia. People are travelling either for the first time, thanks to low cost airlines, or for the umpteenth time, and they are branching out to try new places. And they are being adventurous not only in where they travel to but how they plan and book their travels.”

In July as well, Google, which commanded 72 percent of the search market in the US in May 2010 (Experian Hitwise), paid US$700 million to acquire ITA Software, a company whose technology solution helps travellers search for air fares.

“This development which sees Google moving into the travel vertical can only benefit travellers as this will spur the industry to improve search and make it easier for us to look for the best air fares to anywhere,” said Yeoh.

It is against this backdrop that leading travel marketing and technology experts from around the world will gather at the Web In Travel conference to discuss and debate the latest customer trends emerging in Asia.

Represented on the speakers list are new brands such as TripAdvisor; travel.co.jp, the publicly-listed Japanese meta travel search site; koreahotels.com, the leading online hotel portal in South Korea; NileGuide, the US-based travel planning site; Holiday IQ, the India-based travel media site that’s expanding in South-east Asia; and Indonesia’s Mandala Airlines, which is launching international services to Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau soon.

Established online travel brands such as Wotif, ZUJI/Travelocity, Expedia and Hotels.com will also be represented, along with the leading players in search, revenue management, social media, branding, marketing and distribution.

“What we wanted to do this year was to widen our net to cover players who are making waves in Asia Pacific, international brands who are entering the region and emerging markets such as Indonesia and Korea,” said Yeoh.

Close to 60 speakers have been confirmed, with more likely to be added in the months to come. Among the speakers are “archangel” investor Morten Lund who has co-founded and invested in more than 50 high-tech startups including Skype and online stockbroker Zecco; Adrian Hamilton-Manns, CEO of Mandala Airlines in Indonesia; Cui Guang Fu, CEO, Elong, China; Gerry Samuels, CEO, Mobile Travel Technologies; Hrush Bhatt, founder and director of Cleartrip/Small World in India; Marc Charron, managing director of TripAdvisor APAC; and William Bao Bean, partner, Softbank China & India Holdings.

Source taken from: http://www.etravelblackboardasia.com/article.asp?id=69382&nav=80

Advertisements

, , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Why Asia should matter?

28 June 2010

Up to 43 percent of the world’s online population will reside in Asia by 2013, according to projections from Forrester Research. And China will account for 17 percent of the global online population.

In mobile, eMarketer forecasts China will have 1.3 billion subscribers and 957 million mobile Web users by 2014. The consultancy projects there will be more people accessing the Web on their cell phones in the country than the entire population of the U.S. in 2010.

Other digital marketing facts in Asia include:

  • Internet users in Asia Pacific spent more than 5.6 trillion minutes online in 2009, and bought $7 billion in virtual goods, according to the Asia Pacific Digital Marketing Handbook.
  • Nearly half of all search activity (44.1 percent) across the region in September 2009 took place on Google; representing 17 billion searches. (comScore)
  • India’s Internet population grew to 71 million, a year-on-year increase of 42 percent in 2009; 51 million of them are active users. (Economic Times)
  • Japan has around 21.8 million social network users. Around half of them actively manage their profiles, according to Universal McCann.
  • The Philippines has more than 10.6 million Facebook users and is ranked eighth in the world in terms of countries with highest number of using the social networking site, reports Inside Facebook.

Source taken from: http://www.clickz.com/3640741

, , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Skype CEO Continues To See Growth In Middle East; Bets Big On Asia

By P.R. Venkat and Costas Paris
15 June 2010

Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

SINGAPORE (Dow Jones)–Internet calling service Skype Ltd. Tuesday said that it continues to see growth opportunities in the Middle East despite being banned in parts of the area and is optimistic about the company’s growth potential in Asia.

“There are a couple of governments that officially banned Skype…but what we see in most of the developing world (is that) they are embracing Skype,” Chief Executive Officer Josh Silverman told Dow Jones Newswires.

Silverman is in Singapore to attend the CommunicAsia Conference that began Tuesday.

“I would say, we see growth in the Middle East in general,” Silverman said without getting into details on the ban of the service in the United Arab Emirates.

Currently, Skype cannot be downloaded in Oman, the UAE and Kuwait, although the software can be used if it is previously installed on a computer. The UAE Telecommunication Regulatory Authority said in March that Skype will be allowed to offer a greater range of services in the country if they are partnered with existing licensed telecom operators.

Silverman said that Skype sees strong growth potential in the Asia Pacific as the region has become globally connected due to an increasing number of expatriates and growing international trade.

“Special to Asia is that many people are having their first internet experience on a smart phone. So a big focus of ours is for them to have a really compelling experience,” Silverman said.

Skype has over 500 million registered users around the world and is adding 300,000 users a day. The company aspires to have 100 million personal computers shipped with Skype preloaded in 2011. Silverman declined to give growth projections by region.

Silverman said that his company was keen to offer Skype to BlackBerry and other mobile platforms in Asia. In February, Verizon Wireless announced that it was offering the Skype application on smartphones in the U.S.

On China, Silverman said that Skype’s local partner Tomonline was helping it comply with government regulations and that there was demand from Chinese making cross-border calls.

“We think being part of a global conversation is very important for Chinese citizens, entrepreneurs and Chinese families,” Silverman said.

He would not comment on whether his company plans a listing, saying only that Skype is profitable and has enough money for acquisitions “if it makes sense.”

Source taken from: http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20100615-703646.html?mod=WSJ_World_MIDDLEHeadlinesMideast

, , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

The dark side of the Internet

By Princess Fatimah Tariq

Most of us know how the Internet has revolutionised the world. Communicating with family and friends has become immediate despite the distance, getting work done through the internet such as paying utility bills online have made chores easy to complete. People are now able to publish their opinions, posts, news, talent and portfolio for the world to review. The current generation and the coming generations have become so addicted to the Internet that now it seems impossible to live without the Internet.

I could go on and on about the remarkable opportunities the Internet has brought forth, however, this post aims to bring light to the “dark” side of the Internet. That side which is not visible to many people in world. A side which requires some thought and attention before it goes out of control.

To start off, I believe that the key selling point of the Internet is its ability to communicate with people especially those who live a good distance away from your houses or work places. The Internet has allowed people to send documents, files, pictures and portfolios from one country to another. It promises easy and convenient communication. Yet people fail to see how difficult this has made our lives. Being able to communicate instantly has now lead to companies requiring their employees to work from home and respond to their office emails after office hours. The easy and instant communication method has also given birth to a new trend. People find it easier to send messages on Facebook rather then call a person who lives in the same city or even speak to him if they are in the same building.

Furthermore, being so glued to our emails and social-networking sites, it is now assumed that if someone doesnt reply to your email or Facebook comment within 24 hours, it means that he or she is in trouble or not well. Now where did that come from?? The Internet has made our lives run at a speed that is hard to cope up with. We are expected to be online 24/7 responding to family, friends and businesses. It has now made it harder for us to have a day off to ourselves, without expecting to respond to anything.

Also, the Internet makes it hard to amend mistakes or take something given back. If I send an email containing important documents to someone and then realise I have sent it to the wrong email address, I have no way of taking the email back. Even if the person says he would delete it without reading my confidential information, there is no guarantee that it is going to happen. The internet makes files very easy to duplicated with perfection and store the file in multiple places. A search through the computer would also make it close to impossible to search if there has be no duplicates of the email

Moreovere, the Internet has made our life an open book especially due to social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Orkut and Friendster. There is no such thing as privacy. Anyone can google my name and be able to find information about me such as my email address, date of birth or pictures of how I look like. If I ever need to hide my identity from someone, lets say a stalker. I would not be able to do that without cutting myself completely out from the medium.

Lastly, many people have been jailed, fined and/or blamed for bridging copyright laws using content available on the Internet. The fact is that many of those people don’t even intend to break copyright rules and get sued for thousands (that’s the least). Using content from the internet is mostly free, but there is no guidance or clear definition of how copyright laws are applied on the internet. I believe that for such an incredible invention, it is not that hard to come out with an application educating and warning people of the limit allowed within the copyright fences.

In conclusion, there is no doubt to what a spectacular invention the Internet has turned out to be. However, I wanted to raise awareness that this medium in not perfect. It has so many flaws and hidden dangers that many fail to recognise.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment

Asian cloud gets boost with Singapore Net exchange

By Victoria Ho, ZDNet Asia on June 15, 2010

COMMUNICASIA, SINGAPORE–With the launch today of a neutral Internet exchange in the country, cloud services are primed to enjoy a boost across the region in the near future, according to Singapore Internet Exchange (SGIX) Chairman Malcolm Rodrigues.

In a press briefing held at the CommunicAsia tradeshow here Tuesday, Rodrigues said the SGIX has been commercially launched and boasts 15 members which are now connected to it. These include the three local telcos–M1, SingTel and StarHub–as well as foreign operators such as Orange, Pacnet and Tata Communications.

The Singapore government first called for industry comments on the establishment of the neutral Internet exchange in July last year. This was aimed at attracting more providers to host content in the country, as well as getting foreign carriers to use the island-state as a hub for Internet traffic, with the promise of quick and reliable connectivity.

Carriers connecting to the not-for-profit exchange are expected to reap economies of scale through consolidation of connection points. Instead of having to connect to individual carriers around the region, they can bypass that by linking to the SGIX as a central point, Rodrigues explained.

As interconnections within members ramp up, the cost and latency of connectivity can be expected to drop by as much as 90 percent, he said.

The initiative was commended in a previous interview with Glimmerglass’ Jay Bowker, who said such a facility would help keep costs low for ISPs (Internet service providers) and provide users cheaper access to the Internet.

Another benefit will come in the form of lower latency, since data will travel a shorter distance without having to loop through a chain of ISPs based overseas before coming back to the user’s location, he added.

“We think with the cloud taking off, [the SGIX] can help in the development of high bandwidth applications.

“The [SGIX launch] is well-timed with the next-generation national broadband network (NBN) on its way,” Rodrigues said.

With the launch, the SGIX is now ready to start connecting members to its network. Its services are priced at a monthly fee of S$800 (US$573.1) for a 100Mbps port speed connection, S$1,500 (US$1,074) for 1Gbps and S$5,000 (US$3,582) for 10Gbps.

Connecting to the cloud
Pacnet CTO Wilfred Kwan said during his presentation here at CommunicAsia that networks in Asia have to cope with a rapid growth in broadband and wireless subscriptions.

There were 175 million new Internet subscribers in the first quarter of this year, with 70 percent of those coming from the Asia-Pacific region, said Kwan. In particular, these came from countries such as India and China, as well as Vietnam and Indonesia, he said.

On network congestion experienced in the region, he said intra-Asian traffic has grown 550 times over the last 10 years and is expected to continue expanding as Asia grows to become its own trading zone.

Cloud computing will only serve to push bandwidth needs, he said. “The cloud demands more bandwidth, and also low latency and redundancy to make its vision work for businesses.”

Punit Minocha, senior vice president of corporate development, data center solutions and cloud computing at Trend Micro, pointed out a number of items companies should watch out for as they move to the cloud.

“Cloud computing emphasizes the [model] of plugging in, [letting it] handle your data burst and leave. That creates problems,” said Minocha, who was also speaker at the tradeshow.

He urged businesses evaluating cloud providers to ensure these vendors provide “inside-out” protection, as opposed to the traditional “outside-in”.

He defined “outside-in” as the traditional setup of having a firewall or other security applications on the physical machines at the data center. But, he noted that this is insufficient for a cloud environment, in which companies are sharing resources with multiple strangers.

The “inside-out” model will entail placing protection such as encryption around each virtual machine in order to shield it from others running on the same physical machine, he said.

Each virtual machine also carries its own encryption key so they cannot be unlocked by the cloud provider’s IT administrator, Minocha added.

Such measures further allow users to be portable between cloud providers, avoiding the issue of vendor lock-in and enabling them to retain control over their own data, he said.

Source taken from: http://www.zdnetasia.com/asian-cloud-gets-boost-with-singapore-net-exchange-62200777.htm

, , , , , ,

Leave a comment

New Singapore e-Government Masterplan To Connect With The People

Source: Government of Singapore Posted on: 14th June 2010

Social networking tools have empowered citizens, and they could also be harnessed by the public sector to deliver efficient and effective services, said Head of Civil Service Peter Ho at the iGOV Global Forum.

He also gave a preview of Singapore’s next e-Government masterplan, to facilitate a collaborative government that co-creates and connects with the people.

Keynote Speech by Mr Peter Ho, Head of Civil Service and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore at iGOV Global Forum, 14 June 2010, Suntec Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Centre

“e-Government: The Next Quantum Leap”

First, I would like to extend a very warm welcome all delegates to the second iGov Global Forum. In particular, I welcome delegates who have travelled from overseas to join us in Singapore for this Forum.

We have many prominent speakers, senior government officials and industry leaders in our midst today. I hope that today’s forum will provide a conducive platform for human networking and co-creation.

Trends and Challenges Facing Public Sector Today

The public sector operates in an increasingly complex and uncertain environment. Today, we deal with many issues that cannot be simply compartmentalised and parcelled out to individual agencies. Increasingly, issues tend to be multi-dimensional, cutting across jurisdictions. In response, public officers have to work together collaboratively and innovatively, across agencies, to come up with solutions to such wicked problems.

Public officers also have to contend with higher expectations of their customers – both citizens as well as businesses. Unlike in the past, today’s public officers can expect to face public scrutiny for their actions and policies.

But, we should not be surprised. With the accelerating development of information and communication technologies, access to information has increased dramatically. Internet technologies – more specifically, social networking media – have caused a disruptive shift in the balance of knowledge, between the government and its citizens. Largely enabled by the prolific use of social networking tools, we now see a growing constituency of empowered citizens who do not necessarily subscribe to the notion of “Government knows best”. This disruptive shift calls for a fundamental re-think of how governments make policies and implement them.

The same disruptive technologies that are empowering citizens can also be harnessed by the public sector to deliver efficient and effective services. The use of blogs and twitters featured prominently in United States Presidential campaign in the year 2008. It demonstrated the power of social networking or viral marketing. While many politicians have started to leverage on social networking tools for campaigning, using them for the purposes of government is less well-developed or understood. But, we cannot avoid using them. However, when we do, we will be sailing into uncharted waters.

Preview of the next Singapore e-Government Masterplan

Set against this backdrop of change and uncertainty, the Ministry of Finance and IDA’s Government CIO Office have started to develop the masterplan for the next phase of e-Government. The Singapore e-Government journey started some 30 years ago. The early years of computerisation laid the foundation that has enabled us to stay ahead of the curve. We were able to realise the benefits of e-Government when the Internet came on the scene.

Now, practically all public services are delivered electronically. So the question on everyone’s mind is, “What’s next?” We are heading for a sea change – a change that will be powered by the social networking technologies that are already pervasive today. This will lead to a quantum leap in the way that the public sector serves and interacts with its stakeholders.

Singapore’s next e-Government masterplan will facilitate and enable this major shift from a “Gov-to-You” mindset to a “Gov-With-You” mindset – to fuel innovation and to encourage co-creation. The vision for the next masterplan is of a collaborative government that co-creates and connects with the people. To achieve this vision, the new masterplan will focus on three strategic thrusts.

Thrust 1: Co-creating for Higher Value

Firstly, the public sector will work together with the private and people sectors to co-create for higher value. Today’s public services are pre-dominantly delivered in one direction – from government to the customer. Although there are processes for public consultation and feedback from the ground, for the most part, public services are largely conceptualised and developed within and by the public sector. However, this mindset of “Government knows best” is irrelevant in today’s world where citizens and businesses can easily access much of the information that governments used to monopolise and control in the past.

In his 1980 book, “The Third Wave”, the noted futurologist Alvin Toffler (who also authored the book “Future Shock”) coined the term “prosumer”. He predicted that the role of producers and consumers would blur and merge. Indeed, today’s consumers and citizens are much more sophisticated than in the past. They are no longer satisfied to passively accept generic products and services. They know better and they demand better – and they want to have a say in how things are done. This is the reality that public sector agencies will have to come to terms with. To this end, they will have to tap into the wisdom of crowds, into the knowledge and capabilities that reside in the private and people sectors. Together they will co-develop and deliver effective services to meet the customers’ needs.

Collectively, government agencies are custodians of vast databases of information that can be tapped on to create useful services. ACRA, which is the Singapore government agency that regulates companies and businesses, has a long and successful track record in opening up business data to private sector to provide value-added information services. One of their more recent innovations is BizFinx, under which ACRA makes use of standard xBRL data formats to collaborate with private sector companies to provide business analytics services.

Another example is the Land Transport Authority which collaborated with Google to combine live traffic feeds and public transportation data with Google Maps to provide an integrated service for commuters and motorists for travel planning.

These are examples of co-creation and innovative PPP models. There is scope to do much more. There is potential to open up common applications. An example is SingPass, the single authentication for government e-services. SingPass has been extended to private sector transactions as well for the benefit of consumers. DP Credit Bureau uses SingPass to verify the identity of the person requesting for an online personal credit report. This is a non-government service by a private sector company.

Under the next e-government masterplan, the idea of government-as-a-platform will be further advanced to enable more data – both spatial and textual data – to be shared. Programmes, schemes and even contests will be held to encourage the use of such public data to create innovative services to bring greater value to citizens and businesses.

Thrust 2: Connecting for Active Participation

Besides seeking to co-create in service delivery, a collaborative government actively seeks to connect with its citizens and involve them in shaping public policies. This is our second thrust – Connecting for Active Participation.

Social networking tools such as blogs, Youtube, Facebook and Twitter are excellent channels for mass collaboration and reaching out to large segments of the population quickly and efficiently. Singapore government agencies are beginning to use such social networking tools to extend their reach to connect with citizens – in spite of uncertainties, unknowns and even risks involved. Even some of our government ministers are discussing their respective ministry’s plans and thinking through blogs.

But as we push the envelope to exploit technology, we must also look out for the pitfalls. At the end of the day, technology is just an enabling tool that can equally be exploited for either the good or the bad. For instance, while the Internet provides an excellent platform for disseminating information and getting feedback from the ground, public officers need to develop the instinct to separate the “noise” from genuine feedback. There is also the danger of succumbing to pressure from the vocal minority and doing what is popular as opposed to what is right for the country.

We also need to be mindful of the new digital divide separating the digital natives and the digital migrants. There may be segments of the population that may not be able to, or prefer not to use, such new media for engaging the government. So we should exploit the new media in such as way that no one is left out or left behind.

Thrust 3: Catalyzing WOG Transformation

While the first two thrusts are focused on the people and private sectors, the third thrust is focused on the public sector itself. It is aimed at catalyzing transformation within the whole-of-government. The public sector must itself lead by example. It must be immersed in the same enabling technologies and culture.

In tandem with the rollout of the Next Generation National Broadband Network, the IDA will design the next generation ICT infrastructure for the whole-of-government. This infrastructure will facilitate mass collaboration, shared systems, services and processes under a Whole-of-Government Enterprise Architecture.

Cloud computing is a concept that is not new to us. For many years, we have operated our own private government cloud providing common ICT infrastructure, applications and services. We will continue to explore and leverage cloud computing and energy-efficient technologies.

Beyond the underlying ICT infrastructure, we will drive innovative applications that will bring about new and enhanced capabilities within the public sector. One focus area will be the use of business analytics to help public sector agencies make sense of the information that they have so as to enhance efficiency and effectiveness as well as deliver new services to the public.

While technology evolves at Internet speed, policy changes tend to lag behind. As a result, organisations and the people’s capacity to embrace and effect change also lag behind. But we are moving into a new era of mass collaboration. There is no turning back – the public sector must keep pace and change with the times. This is quite a big shift in our approach – public sector agencies and officers need to reflect and think about what this means and how it translates into the way they work and interact within agencies, across agencies and with the public.

Concluding Remarks

Public officers and agencies need to be agile and innovative in this complex and fast-changing operating environment. They must be able to deal with uncertainty; to sense and respond; and to be prepared to take calculated risks. To this end, the Singapore Government has been investing in human capital development as well as organisation development.

This is not unique to Singapore and I venture to say that many other governments and public sector administrations are grappling with similar issues. Forums such as this iGov Global Forum create opportunities for us to discuss, share experience and to co-create.

On that note, I wish you all a good day ahead with many interesting and fruitful discussions.

Thanks you.

Source taken from: http://www.thegovmonitor.com/world_news/asia/new-singapore-e-government-masterplan-to-connect-with-the-people-33531.html

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment

Singapore Gets Wired for Speed

By Sonia Kaloenikov-Jesso
14 June 2010

SINGAPORE — This island city-state, thanks to its small size and a big public investment, could soon be the first country blanketed with a fiber optic infrastructure so fast that it would enable the contents of a DVD to be downloaded in only a few seconds.

The new network is expected to give a strong boost to the growth of services like online video and Internet telephony. Pyramid Research, which analyzes the telecommunications business, expects the revenue of Singapore telecommunication operators to rise to $5.1 billion by 2014 from $3.8 billion in 2009.

The new network, stimulated by an investment of 1 billion Singapore dollars, or about $700 million, from the government, will help the country leap ahead in an international race to roll out faster broadband speeds, a competition in which several Asian countries are in leading positions.

While policy makers in many places are still debating their high-speed broadband strategies, considering, for example, whether development should be led by the public or private sector, broadband users in some parts of Asia already have access to the next generation of high-speed networks.

Japan and Hong Kong have been leading the way, with private companies already offering speeds as high as one gigabit per second, or 1,000 megabits per second — many times as fast as the 35 megabits per second required for streaming high-definition video. But these networks do not cover every home.

South Korea, one of the world’s most wired places, has also announced plans to complete a new broadband network offering one gigabit per second in all major cities by 2013.

For the development of its network, Singapore is relying on a mixture of public subsidies and private-sector participation and separating three main functions: the building of the infrastructure, the operation of the network and the provision of retail services.

OpenNet, the infrastructure builder is owned by a consortium formed by Axia of Canada and three Singaporean companies — SingTel, Singapore Press Holdings and SP Telecommunications — using existing parts of SingTel’s network. As part of the agreement, SingTel has transferred its 30 percent stake to a separately managed asset company and will reduce its stake within five years.

The infrastructure operator, which received a grant of 750 million Singapore dollars from the government, is required to have the new network operating in Singapore by the end of 2012. So far, it has laid fiber optic connections to about 30 percent of all the buildings; it is aiming for 60 percent coverage by the end of this year.

Khoong Hock Yun, an official in the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, said the government had seen an opportunity to introduce a next-generation fixed-line network, as well as to restructure its telecommunications sector.

“If you look at history across many developed countries, after years of liberalizing their telecom sector, the essential part of their fixed-line network is still owned substantially by the incumbent,” he said, referring to former monopoly providers like SingTel. “Those who have the physical infrastructure have a huge competitive advantage, and every service company remains dependent on the incumbent for their fixed line network needs.

“As a result, much of the pace of development, in terms of pricing and services offered, really depends on the investment decision of that incumbent and whether they want to partner with other people to create solutions they may not be prepared to offer at that point in time themselves.”

By separating the infrastructure building from the running of the network, the authority believes it can create a more competitive environment with more effective open access to downstream operators, Mr. Khoong said.

The Singaporean model draws its inspiration from several community broadband networks that can be found at the local level in countries like Britain, France, the Netherlands and Sweden.

“We noticed that in many of these cities that had rolled out their own network and made it open access, they had a huge growth in telecom service providers at the retail level,” Mr. Khoong said. “For small communities you have 20 to 30 retail service providers. This creates real competition.”

Nucleus Connect, which will operate the network, has announced monthly wholesale prices starting at 21 Singapore dollars for speeds of 100 megabits per second for residential connections, and Malcolm Rodrigues, general manager of commercial services at the company, said about 90 companies had expressed interest in providing a retail service. He expects about 12 companies to sign up for the services.

But analysts and market observers doubt whether new competition will really develop within the Singapore context, and whether prices of bandwidth for consumers will go down significantly for consumers as a result. Consumers now pay about 40 Singapore dollars per month for broadband access of six megabits per second, which is relatively high compared with Hong Kong, where some consumers pay about 200 Hong Kong dollars, or about 36 Singapore dollars, a month for service of one gigabit per second.

“I don’t think it’s going to introduce new competition, at least in terms of delivering the basic service,” said Bryan Wang, an analyst at Springboard Research. “It’s a very small market. It’s still going to be the same game between the main three current players — SingTel, StarHub and M1,”

He said retail service providers who were unable to offer the bundling of other services like television, mobile or fixed-line phone services, would have an uphill struggle to offer lower prices.

“There is a very limited room for new players,” Mr. Wang said. “It’s very likely the fixed broadband business will only attract those customers that need the bandwidth. A lot of consumers don’t need one Gbps, especially when you’re getting cheaper wireless broadband access.”

Source taken from: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/15/technology/15iht-rtechbroad.html?pagewanted=1&src=busln

, , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment