Cisco technology powers M'sian smart town

The i-City intelligent community being developed in Selangor is reputed to be the country's only commercial property with last-mile fiber optics to units.

KUALA LUMPUR--The ability to provide connectivity as a utility is now a reality in Malaysia with the launch of i-City--a 2 billion ringgit (US$623.87 million) infocomm technology (ICT)-based commercial development in the state of Selangor.

U.S.-based networking giant Cisco and Australia's ServCorp have collaborated with developer of smart communities, I-Berhad, to develop i-City into the country's premier technology city.

The 28.8 hectare development in Selangor's Shah Alam is an integrated township, comprising a shopping mall, corporate towers, office and retail suites, hotels, apartments and a data centre. It is expected to create some 50,000 jobs for knowledge workers when completed in five years' time.

i-City is reputed to be the only commercial property in Malaysia with "last-mile fiber-optics to the units" network, and with a capacity up to 10Gbps, according to an I-Berhad statement. The network supports a wide range of Internet Protocol (IP)-based services and applications.

The development leverages on Cisco's Connected Real Estate (CRE) technology which provides a plug and play environment for knowledge workers and tenants.

Cisco Malaysia's managing director Kumaran Singaram said at a media briefing on the project in Kuala Lumpur early this week: "Cisco has been driving the concept of establishing connectivity as the 'fourth utility', after electricity, water and gas in Malaysia."

He commended I-Berhad's foresight in making the network part of the blueprint when it started the planning for i-City, adding this was key to setting the development apart from others.

Kumaran said with Cisco CRE, the network infrastructure and real estate are united through the incorporation of technology into each step of the real estate lifecycle, including design, construction, realization, use and operations.

He explained that Cisco CRE leverages the network to reduce capital and operating expenditure for key stakeholders over the building's lifecycle, and creates a more productive and flexible workplace through scalable collaboration, mobility and remote connectivity tools.

"This enables the control and management of real estate systems, providing 24-hour onsite or off-site control of all building systems, operations and security over a single IP network. Using the network as a platform, companies can transform their businesses to be more productive and effective," he added.

I-Berhad deputy CEO Lim Boon Siong said the cost of setting up the fiber-optics network for the project would amount to 200 million ringgit (US$62.3 million), or 10 percent of the project's gross development value of 2 billion ringgit (US$623.87 million).

He said I-Berhad was the first developer in Malaysia to use technology on such a scale for its property projects. Lim was bullish about the prospects for the intelligent city project, adding that its first phase, which includes 44 shops-offices, have been fully sold out.

I-Berhad had partnered with ServCorp, a provider of managed offices, to provide and manage IP-based services in i-City. It will invest in the fiber optics network for the entire development and manage the "last mile" ICT infrastructure as well as provide a range of IP-based services through this infrastructure.

The joint venture will also purchase for resale, high speed connectivity from the various local telcos, allowing tenants to choose their carrier from off a menu, said ServCorp chief information officer Marcus Moufarrige.

Pay as you use
He said i-City residents will be able to turn the technology "on and off on demand". He said this was a "pay-as-you-use" model, meaning enterprises at i-City would not have to invest in setting up their own IT infrastructure, and maintaining and supporting the system. He argued that the total cost of ownership for an enterprise including broadband and voice services and capital expenditure (capex) will be markedly lower by operating in i-City.

"Studies in the United States, United Kingdom and field research we have done here indicates the savings in terms total cost of ownership with regards to network operation will be up to 30 percent per workstation on a per-month basis," added Moufarrige.

i-City was awarded the MSC Malaysia Cybercenter status last Saturday by Malaysian premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Lee Min Keong is a freelance IT writer based in Malaysia.