UUNet Becomes First Foreign IXSP in Singapore

MCI WorldCom Inc.'s UUNet division has taken advantage of newly liberalized regulations in Singapore's Internet market to become the first wholly foreign-owned entity to offer Internet connectivity here, UUNet announced yesterday.

The company is responding to moves made by the country's regulatory body Telecommunications Authority of Singapore (TAS) to waive a policy which requires 51 percent Singaporean ownership of any company in the telecommunications and Internet fields.

UUNet has been granted a three-year IXSP (Internet exchange service provider) license and is asking for a full ISP (Internet service provider) license. The IXSP license enables UUNet to provide international Internet connectivity to Singapore's four existing ISPs -- SingNet Pte. Ltd., Pacific Internet Ltd, Cyberway Pte. Ltd. and new entrant DataOne Asia Pte. Ltd. Previously, all international 'Net traffic had to be handled by national carrier Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (SingTel).

UUNet's planned service will enable traffic to be aggregated and sent by leased circuits to hubs around the world. This will reduce the need for each ISP in Singapore to set up its own direct links, the U.S. company said in a statement issued yesterday. Additionally, ISPs from other countries in Asia will be able to use UUNet as a portal for fast access to the global Internet infrastructure, the company added.

Currently, UUNet maintains multiple hubs in Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Sydney connecting Asia with the west coast of the U.S., comprising a mix of 622M-bits-per-second and 45M-bits-per-second links as part of the company's global Internet backbone.

TAS announced in June that it would open up Singapore's IXSP market for companies to compete with SingTel, but this was subject to the standard foreign ownership restrictions. The awarding of a license to UUNet is an exception granted because of the company's global presence and ability to improve Singapore's position as a regional Internet hub, analysts here believe.