SingTel aims to be first truly pan-Asian telco

With the lofty aim to be the first truly pan-Asian total communications carrier, SingTel looks set to blaze a trail into the wireless future. The Singaporean telecom company was catapulted into the limelight with its high-profile offer to acquire Cable & Wireless Optus and its earlier collaboration with the Virgin Group to create Virgin Mobile Asia Pacific.

Lucas ChowWith the lofty aim to be the first truly pan-Asian total communications carrier, SingTel looks set to blaze a trail into the wireless future. The Singaporean telecom company was catapulted into the limelight with its high-profile offer to acquire Cable & Wireless Optus and its earlier collaboration with the Virgin Group to create Virgin Mobile Asia Pacific. EVP of Consumer Business Lucas Chow believes wireless Internet will drive the demand for wireless services in the near future.

SingTel Mobile has launched General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), a GSM technology that allows broadband multimedia data to be transmitted over mobile phone networks at speeds up to 115 kbps. It is an important step forward in the evolution of mobile communications and a key in the transition to 3G mobile phone technology.

With an "always connected" capability, a number of innovative applications can be implemented with GPRS. As users become more familiar with wireless data service, 3G will come in handy to cater for the higher bandwidth traffic. The mobility feature of 3G cannot be understated as it opens up a new dimension of applications requiring user location and identification, such as location-based and e- or m-commerce services.

GPRS and 3G enable higher speed data applications such as video or picture messaging. In future, 3G network could also support full IP end-to-end applications. With higher processing power of 3G handsets, more powerful applications can be made available to customers. However, the current limitation of GPRS is the lack of available mobile terminals.

SingTel Mobile has secured a licence to operate 3G services in Singapore. We will now focus on preparing for the deployment of our 3G network as well as rolling out new services and applications.

Wireless Internet will be the key driver for demand for mobile data services. Currently, data services account for about 6 per cent of cellular revenue. We expect this to increase to between 15 to 20 per cent in two years¡¦ timeƒn

The Internet is an integral part of today's lifestyle but is relatively limited to home/office PC access. With the mobility element in Wireless Internet and faster speeds with new platforms like GPRS and 3G, Wireless Internet will gain popularity.

SingTel Mobile recently launched its location-based services, using *Send service. This service will benefit customers especially when they are in an unfamiliar neighbourhood, such as helping them locate nearby facilities and amenities like petrol stations and ATMs. We will continue to adapt and embrace new ideas and technologies and provide more innovative value-added services for our customers as and when these are available.

More about Top 20 Telecoms' Outlook.