Singapore’s Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) has opened consultations on a proposed interconnect and numbering regime for voice services provided over the city-state’s wireless broadband networks. Three operators—Singtel, iCell and Qalanet—offer wireless services in the 2.5GHz band as part of Singapore’s Wireless@SG initiative and the IDA says it is now time to formalise an industry regime to support voice services carried over those networks. The IDA adds that the move is needed as part of the global shift from discrete PSTN and wireless networks to a converged next generation network. However, the Agency stops short of harmonising the standard numbering range with IP addresses.
Rohan Samarajiva chaired the Universal, Ubiquitous, Equitable and Affordable session at the ITU World 2006 that raised some fundamental questions about Universal Service Obligation (USO) programs around the world. Rohan introduced the topic [PDF] drawing from LIRNEasia‘s recent Shoestrings II study on telephone use at the “bottom of the pyramid.” The first Keynote speaker, Zhengmao Li, VP China Unicom, described the efforts of the Chinese govt and his company in building a harmonious digital society. Thanks to the govt’s policy to provide access to ICTs on an equitable and affordable basis, more than 97 percent of administrative villages in China have a phone. The second Keynote speaker, Tom Philips, Chief Regulatory Officer at the GSM Association forcefully argued that USO programs in most parts of the world have not resulted in improved access but have rather harmed the objective of connecting those who currently do not have access.