Staying connected at Singapore 2006

World financial leaders can expect ubiquitous Net connectivity when Singapore 2006, which includes the IMF-World Bank annual board meeting, opens next week.

SINGAPORE--The world's top financial leaders will converge in the island-state next week, and event organizers are sparing no effort to ensure delegates enjoy a seamless office experience away from home.

According to a spokesperson from the Singapore 2006 organizing committee, several technology lead partners have been roped in to provide a range of business services at the Suntec Convention Center ,where the event will be held from Sep. 13 to 20.

Singapore 2006 is a series of high-level meetings involving global financial organizations. The event is expected to attract 16,000 delegates, including 400 finance ministers, central bank governors and world leaders from organizations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Networking giant Cisco Systems, for instance, has set up close to 4,000 wired network points and over 40 wireless access points, incorporated with the latest security technologies.

In addition, 50 IP (Internet Protocol)-based telephones with touch-color screens will provide useful applications such as news updates from Bloomberg and BBC, weather alerts and flight schedules.

Specially developed by a four-member team from Singapore tertiary institution Nanyang Polytechnic and communications software provider NexLabs, the applications will also provide delegates with real-time conference meeting schedules, contact numbers of local hotels and tourist information on Singapore.

Craig Gledhill, managing director for Singapore and Brunei at Cisco Systems, said the value of network equipment and accompanying IP services clocked in at US$1.2 million (S$2 million).

France-based Alcatel will also be providing US$1.2 million (S$2 million) worth of communications equipment, including 1,250 analog and 1,020 multi-line digital phones connected to a digital PABX system.

The telecom equipment maker will also have voice communications specialists stationed at the conference to implement, test and maintain these communications systems, to be deployed at over 1,000 temporary offices, meeting rooms and the international media centre located at Suntec Singapore.

Alcatel will still be providing 20 IP phones at special waiting lounges designated for government delegates at Singapore Changi Airport. Delegates will be able to access Internet services such as stocks, weather, currency conversion and news.

Fuji Xerox will also offer a range of printing and photocopying services at the convention center. International courier service provider UPS, will also be at the service of delegates who need to send physical documents back to their home countries.

Event organizers have also created an IT system based on Oracle's infrastructure platform to manage backend operations of the week-long event. Dubbed the Organizing Committee Tracking and Update System (Octus), it allows event organizers armed with Nokia's 3G cellphones to update the operations control center on infrastructure failures and security issues.

In addition, local carrier SingTel will be delivering about S$2 million (US$1.3 million) worth of voice, mobile, broadband and data applications at Singapore 2006. To complement the telecom services, the carrier will also operate helpdesk counters to meet the needs of delegates. Besides communication services, SingTel will offer equipment such as phone and fax lines, which will be made available for rent.

Free wireless Internet access
In addition to the wireless access points provided by Cisco at the event venue, the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) of Singapore will offer free Wi-Fi services at Suntec City Mall, Raffles City Shopping Centre, CityLink Mall, Millenia Walk and Marina Square Shopping Centre--facilities which are within walking distance of the convention center.

For the month of September, the service--called Wireless@SG--will be offered free. It is also a lead-up to the island-wide commercial deployment of the service in January 2007. Users can expect wireless broadband speeds of up to 512Kbps (kilobits per second).

According to IDA deputy chief executive Leong Keng Thai, the month-long service will provide IDA and Internet service providers with greater insight into the challenges and issues faced in rolling out a nationwide Wi-Fi network. The infocomm regulator is inviting the public to provide any feedback to improve the service.