Singapore reveals five-year plan for internet dominance

Singapore's Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) aims to make broadband access to the Internet pervasive by 2005, to give the city-state a competitive edge over other countries in the region. To this end, the authority will encourage development of many data transmission technologies, but satellite-to-home services will remain banned until at least 2002.

Broadband fixed-line and mobile wireless networks will be an important part of the vision of making Singapore a leading information and communications hub in Asia, according to the IDA.

These technology directions were presented yesterday by IDA officials in a roadmap of Singapore's technology direction for the next five years. IDA is the government body responsible for overseeing private and public sector initiatives in information and communications technology.

The early adoption and exploitation of emerging infocomm technologies for business opportunities is essential to give Singapore first-mover advantage and a competitive edge over other countries in the region, IDA officials said.

Specific developments planned in the roadmap include:

-- broadband access to be made pervasive by the year 2005, with fixed-line users having data transfer capacities of around 5M bps (bits per second). This will be achieved by developments of existing DSL (digital subscriber line) and cable modem technologies, as well as new delivery methods such as LMDS (local multipoint distribution service) which will be licensed this year. Direct satellite-to-home delivery, currently banned, will be reconsidered by the government in 2002.

-- direct fibre-optic access for end users. Although Singapore has a nationwide fibre-optic backbone, only commercial premises, representing 10 percent of the country's buildings, have fibre available directly to end users. ONUs (optical network units) will gradually be installed in residential premises so that 25 percent of buildings have FTTH (fibre to the home) access within five years.

-- a rapid move towards third-generation (3G) mobile phone networks. Between four and six 3G licenses will be awarded later this year, which will spur rapid growth of mobile data use among Singapore subscribers from the beginning of 2002. Singapore will track developments in emerging wireless and security technologies such as Bluetooth, wireless PKI (public key infrastructure) and multipurpose smart cards.

The roadmap, which has been developed by IDA in partnership with 25 companies involved in information and communications technology, will be updated every six months, IDA said.

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