S'pore unveils new e-initiatives

Announced at the imbX show, these plans include a new grid infrastructure to offer enterprises on-demand services, and a digital hub for media businesses to transact content.
Written by Vivian Yeo, Contributor

update COMMUNICASIA, SINGAPORE--The government announced Tuesday new initiatives targeted at both businesses and consumers, as part of Singapore's 10-year iN2015 infocomm masterplan.

S'pore plans for more connectivity
Government wants more households connected; invests in digital media and entertainment.

At the opening ceremony of the imbX (Infocomm Media Business Exchange) 2008, Singapore's Minister for Information, Communication and the Arts Dr. Lee Boon Yang noted that broadband has been a "powerful catalyst for innovation and demand", spurring services such as software-as-a-service (SaaS) and Internet Protocol television (IPTV).

"In a globalized environment, having a pervasive national broadband network has become more important for most countries in terms of growing the economy, enhancing international competitiveness and enriching the lives of its citizens," said Dr. Lee.

Dr. Lee added that in anticipation of the rollout of the next-generation national broadband network, the country plans to introduce a grid platform to offer on-demand services such as computing, software and storage. Termed the Grid Market Hub, it is expected to appeal particularly to small and midsize businesses (SMBs), which can reduce their upfront capital expenditure and move instead to a pay-per-use model.

S'pore reports ICT growth

Singapore's infocomm sector remains "relatively positive and optimistic", despite an uncertain global business climate.
Dr. Lee Boon Yang, Singapore's minister for information, communication and the arts, conveyed this message Tuesday at the imbX2008 official opening.
The local ICT market registered revenues of about S$51.7 million (US$37.5 million) in 2007, a 13.8 percent growth over the previous year. About 65 percent of the industry revenue came from exports, mainly to North Asia, the Americas and Europe, reported Dr. Lee.
According to the minister, broadband usage has also gone up in Singapore, where some 82.5 percent of households subscribe to broadband service.
About 850,000 also subscribe to the Wireless@SG service, now accessible at over 7,200 hotspots in the country, and chalk up an average of three hours a month on the wireless network.

Ronnie Tay, CEO of Singapore's Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), said at a media briefing that three service provider-groups have been appointed to run the commercial grid services. The consortia, led by the Singapore Computer Systems (SCS), NewMedia Express and PTC System, will roll out the services by the fourth quarter of 2008.

Tan Tong Hai, CEO of SCS, told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail Tuesday that the SCS-led consortium is the only "grid service provider awarded to provide a '3-in-1' service". Together with partner Hewlett-Packard, SCS plans to roll out by September "platform-as-a-service" incorporating on-demand performance computing and storage, as well as software-as-a-service.

Tan added that the consortium currently has 28 business partners, including global technology companies such as Microsoft, Platform Computing, Accelyrs and Mentor Graphics, and home-grown companies such as Aksaas, Protégé Software, Acceval and Justlogin.

HP's vice president and Singapore managing director, Tan Yen Yen, added in an e-mail interview that the group is expecting to increase its partnerships to 60 or 70 over the next three years.

PTC System said in a media statement it would offer storage-as-a-service, initially to only research institutions and commercially in late-2009.

In a separate statement, Fujitsu Asia said it is partnering NewMedia Express, 1-Net Singapore and Microsoft to offer software-as-a-service applications.

According to the IDA, the government has assured the three consortia that it will help generate 40 percent of demand for the new grid services by moving government services on the infrastructure.

Hub for digital media
The MICA's Dr. Lee also touched on the Singapore government's plans to build a hub, dubbed Digital Marketplace, for digital media businesses to manage, distribute and trade assets and content, such as music, movies, videos and advertisements.

He noted that the new digital ecosystem will be developed with the inputs of both local and global infocomm and media industry players.

In another boost to the digital media industry, Singapore's Media Development Authority (MDA) will also support digital media applications and content that have viable business models. The MDA is expected to launch a call for proposals to seek partners in the areas of immersive learning media, pervasive media, virtual and 3D media, digital interactive advertisements and digital hubs.

According to the IDA's Tay, work is also underway to further develop the national authentication framework. Announced in 2005, the framework helps to authenticate transactions and services between the government, businesses and citizens.

Tay said the search for authentication operators will begin later this year, with the IDA setting aside S$20 million (US$14.5 million) to develop a secure platform based on proposals from the industry. He noted that the ICT regulator will work toward having a second factor of authentication, and remain "open" on the mode of authentication, be it software- or hardware-based.

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