StarHub broadband network gets facelift

The Internet service provider's infrastructure will more than triple existing access speeds to 100Mbps, by the second half of 2006.

SINGAPORE--Local Internet service provider (ISP) StarHub is beefing up its cable network to offer Internet access speeds of up to 100 megabits per second (Mbps).

The new high-speed service will be available to homes by the second half of this year, said Terry Clontz, StarHub's president and CEO, during a media briefing yesterday. He added that the service will be delivered over a DOCSIS (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification) 3.0 cable network infrastructure, believed to one of the world's first.

Currently, StarHub's top-tier cable broadband service offers access speeds of up to 30Mbps, the fastest available in Singapore. The service is based on the DOCSIS 1.1 standard, which also allows voice calls to be made over cable networks.

According to Thomas Ee, senior vice president for IP (Internet Protocol) services at StarHub, an upgrade to DOCSIS 3.0 only requires software and equipment upgrades at the telco's backend systems.

But, consumers who want to enjoy the new blazing speed service will need new modems, he said, adding that StarHub will also offer speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second within two to three years.

Motorola, the equipment provider for StarHub's enhanced cable network, estimates that the price of new consumer modems is likely to be more than US$100. However, Charles Dougherty, Motorola's corporate vice president and general manager for connected home solutions, said prices will most likely fall as more cable ISPs worldwide embrace the DOCSIS 3.0 standard.

StarHub is also working with content providers through Velocity, its new content hosting program, to deliver new services that can benefit from faster access speeds. These include online gaming, multimedia conferencing, online data storage, real-time collaborative projects and local content streaming, Ee said.

Clontz added: "Access speed is only one half of the equation. What good is fast access if the Web sites you're visiting are far away?

"The idea is to bring content and applications to our customers as close as possible, so they can experience the full speed we can deliver with our technology."

On how StarHub's upcoming high-speed service dovetails with the Singapore's government's recent announcement to build a new nationwide broadband network based on fiber optics, Clontz said: "If the government is intent on building that network, and includes the private sector [in its development plans], we'll have a good opportunity to participate in some fashion."

"We'll always evaluate technology options, but we are not emotional about a particular technology," he said. "We're more emotional about the service we deliver. I'm delighted that we're fortunate to have a [cable broadband] technology platform today which delivers the kind of speeds that have been talked about."

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