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While some Asia-Pacific economies are world leaders in information and communication technologies (ICT) where broadband access is ultra-high speed, affordable and close to ubiquitous, in most of the region’s poorer countries Internet access remains limited and predominantly low-speed. This is what ITU’s Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Report for the Asia-Pacific region 2008 says. It was released at ITU TELECOM ASIA 2008, Bangkok, Thailand yesterday (Sept 2, 2008). The Report finds evidence that ICTs and broadband uptake foster growth and development, but the question remains as to the optimal speed that should be targeted in view of limited resources. The area in which the region really stands out is the uptake of advanced Internet technologies, especially broadband Internet access.

Internet traffic bypassing the US?

Posted on August 31, 2008  /  3 Comments

Ten years ago, pretty much all the traffic went through the US Internet backbone. Today, claims are being made that only 25 per cent of traffic is routed through the US system. This may require changes in LIRNEasia’s (and Singapore’s) efforts to improve broadband quality of service experience through benchmark regulation or otherwise, using as one of the measures, Round Trip Time to the Internet cloud, defined as first point of landing in the US.  An alternative will not be easy to come by, but we have faith in the wisdom of the many.   Please contribute.
Responding to Rohan Samarajiva’s views on newly implemented Environmental levy in Lankadeepa last week, Central Environmental Authority Chairman Udaya Gammanpila calls it essential and the ‘first progressive tax’ in Sri Lanka. Assuring it does not burden public, he says any tax can be initially unpopular but the impact should be seen in long term. (Lankadeepa, August 19, 2008) These are his points in brief: 1. If not for the Environmental levy, the government has to find money to address environmental issues by increasing either VAT or customs charges. That will raise prices in general.
Upon being awarded a full scholarship, LIRNEasia researcher Tahani Iqbal has moved to Singapore to commence her graduate studies in public policy at the LKY School at the National University of Singapore.  She joins Senior Researcher Sriganesh Lokanathan who is in his second year at the Lee Kuan Yew School.   He was also awarded a full scholarship. Sending our researchers to high-quality graduate programs is one way in which we operationalize our commitment to being a learning organization.
Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA) of Hong Kong was ranked as the most effective National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority site in the recently conducted LIRNEasia study ‘NRA Website survey: Asia Pacific 2008’ receiving 94%, followed by Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) of Singapore with 89% and Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) with 87%. In South Asia Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) scored highest (80%) but Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of India (TRAI) was not too behind (75%). PTA site which scored highest marks in the previous survey in 2005 this time lost marks due to the lack of some features like the non availability of local language version.  More information in paper format and Presentation Slides
An Expert Forum on ICT Sector Indicators and Benchmark Regulation for SAARC Regulatory Authorities will be held in Changi Village Hotel, Singapore on 14 – 15 June 2008 following the 12th LIRNE.net course on Telecom Reform. Photo by: olduvai
As reported elsewhere , Harsha de Silva and I had a productive time at the Mobile Preconference organized by Rich Ling (http://www.richardling.com/ ) and others. One of the outcomes was that LIRNEasia has undertaken to organize this event for the next two years, in conjunction with the ICA conferences scheduled for Chicago, May 21-25, 2009 and for Singapore in June 2010. As Jonathon Donner mentions , there is a distinct value to discussing related papers among a group of like-minded researchers for a day and a half.
An Expert Forum on ICT Sector Indicators and Benchmark Regulation for SAARC Regulatory Authorities will be held in Changi Village Hotel, Singapore on 14 – 15 June 2008 following the 12th LIRNE.net course on Telecom Reform. The Forum will focus on using specific indicators to benchmark performance of the sector as well as the regulatory authority, and using indicator data to improve the performance of both. The latest results from LIRNEasia’s Asian Regulatory Web-site Survey, the Mobile and Broadband Price Benchmarks research and the Broadband Quality of Service Measurement research will be presented at the forum, and will set the background for broader discussion on benchmark regulation. The LIRNEasia developed and IDRC-funded Asian ICT Indicators Database will be introduced and hands-on training on using the database will be provided.

IT firms to leave India?

Posted on April 3, 2008  /  0 Comments

Blueshift is one of the currently India based companies looking to move to neighbouring countries like Malaysia or Singapore where they believe it would be cheaper to operate. “The corporate tax regime in this country is a tough 33% whereas when I look at neighbouring country Singapore it is only 18% at the highest level,” says Blueshift’s chairman Sankaran P Raghunathan. “In fact, most of us have to pay only 7.5%. That’s a huge difference.

Free WiFi in Singapore

Posted on January 21, 2008  /  1 Comments

Economist.com – Cities Guide Singapore’s free Wi-Fi service, which since December 2006 has covered almost all public areas, has been extended to the place it was most notably lacking: the terminals at Changi Airport. Users of the airport, including those at the new Terminal 3 and Budget Terminal, can now log on to wireless@sg and access the internet free of charge. The download speed, 512 kilobits per second, is fast enough for most needs. Powered by ScribeFire.
Robert Clark says: Apple and China Mobile recently broke off talks over selling the device in the mainland after the Chinese carrier rejected Apple’s insistence on a 30% commission. An executive at a non-mainland operator said the company was keen on selling the iPhone, but just couldn’t raise Apple’s interest. Apple doesn’t have a senior executive in Asia trying to push the device and is conducting negotiations from Cupertino at a leisurely pace.   It’s worth remembering developing countries have never been happy hunting grounds for Apple’s high-end devices. The iPhone is a low-volume, high-margin device demanding a fat airtime commission.
A United Nations survey of global e-government readiness has found that many Asian countries are sliding down the rankings. Just one Asian country—South Korea—made the top ten coming in at sixth, with Japan next on 11th.   The next highest was Singapore at a surprisingly low 23rd, and Malaysia at 34th. The top 35 countries are otherwise dominated by Europe, Australasia and North America.  The biggest revelation was that most Asian countries are sliding down the rankings.
Responding to complaints from harassed consumers who are offered “broadband” at speeds much slower than those stipulated by the government, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has taken a tough call. It has written to operators saying they can no longer advertise broadband services that say they offer “up to” 256 kbps speeds, thereby circumventing the rules by offering services at far lower speeds Instead, Trai has directed all operators to clearly mention the minimum guaranteed download speeds in various packages. The regulator said operators have promised to abide by the new direction. Meanwhile, the regulator has also mooted a discussion paper, which was released today, on whether the present level of 256 kbps defined as the minimum speed for a broadband connection should be raised to bring it on a par with international standards. The paper said in countries like France and Singapore, broadband is defined as a minimum speed of 512 kbps.
LANKA BUSINESS ONLINE – LBO Although seen as India’s greatest challenger in terms of its potential scale, China fared poorly for language skills, Gartner said. China, India and Singapore all had strong government support for the promotion of their country as an offshore services location. The political and economic environment remains a concern for many companies when moving work to offshore locations and so Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Vietnam rated poorly, Gartner said. Powered by ScribeFire.
Indonesia’s largest telecommunications company, Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Telkom), said Wednesday it has asked unit Telkomsel to appeal a ruling that Telkomsel has broken the anti-monopoly law.Indonesia’s competition watchdog (KPPU) ruled on Monday that Telkomsel, the largest cellphone carrier here, has broken the competition law. The KPPU fined it 25 billion rupiah (2.7 million dollars) and ordered Telkomsel to lower its tariff by a minimum of 15 percent. “As the majority and controlling shareholder of Telkomsel, Telkom has requested Telkomsel to immediately carry out a legal review in accordance with its own internal processes and governance practices,” Telkom said.
The implications of mobile number portability (MNP) were discussed at a Workshop on Implementing Mobile Number Portability, held in August 2007 in Islamabad, Pakistan. The forum, comprising participants from the Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, provided insight into the technical, regulatory and operational aspects impacted by the porting process, with a focus on the Pakistani MNP experience. The reasons cited in favor of MNP were classified into advantages to subscribers and regulators. The former were benefited by an increase in choice (of packages) and the eliminated costs of having to inform third parties of a number change, while the latter saw MNP as an approach to attract new investment and generate healthy competition. Operators on the other hand, were split in their views; new entrants and operators with smaller market share were of the view that it would create fair play in the industry, but larger operators with significant market power were, unsurprisingly, against the implementation of MNP.