Ms Aileen Chia, Assistant Chief Executive and Deputy Director General (Telecoms and Post), IDA is delivering the opening keynote on Day One of the 9th annual LTE Asia conference, taking place on the 23rd-25th September 2014 at the Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. Here she gives us an overview into the work of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) and how it is helping take Singapore on its ‘smart city’ journey.
What are the primary opportunities and challenges for your region over the next three years?
The Asia Pacific region accounts for over 50% of the world’s mobile subscribers, with mobile penetration expected to reach 89% by the end of 2014. Fuelled by increasingly affordable smart devices, the rate of adoption of mobile broadband is increasing alongside with mobile penetration as networks are being upgraded to next generation platforms. Additionally, 44% of global fixed broadband subscriptions are from the Asia Pacific with some Asian countries such as Singapore having introduced high speed broadband network such as fibre broadband. These indicate that there are both opportunities and challenges in the region, as there is a large and still-growing data-hungry consumer base.
The advances in information and communications technologies (“ICT”) have revolutionised consumer experience. Consumers can now enjoy an entire suite of high-speed, high-definition communication and entertainment activities at home or at work and on-the-go. E-commerce and online advertisements are gaining traction in Asia, lowering the cost to business and consumers alike. Furthermore, the use of ICT in areas such as machine-to-machine (“M2M”) connectivity networks, sensing technologies, or what some collectively term as ‘Internet of Things’, have opened up opportunities for innovation in Internet connected automation. These are exciting new areas for both telecom and Internet companies to venture into, and which we believe will greatly benefit consumers and businesses, in improving their living and work environments.
At the same time, ICT has brought new challenges such as cybercrime and the increasing need for cyber security. Governments and cyber security experts have been working together to step up on infocomm security measures, which will need to be constantly updated to meet the changes in technologies and risks. Similarly, more efforts have been put into creating awareness on cybercrime and the importance of cyber security so that businesses and individuals can do their part in ensuring that they have taken the necessary precautions in protecting themselves.
What is your take on big data and development of Smart Cities/Smart Nation?
Singapore is gearing up to be the world’s first ‘smart nation’. To support this vision, IDA will be strengthening the hard and soft infocomm infrastructure holistically. This includes developing a Smart Nation Platform (SNP) and initiatives that boost soft infrastructure, such as creating standards for Internet of Things @ Home and building of talent in new areas like games science.
The SNP gives a strong boost to Singapore’s hard infrastructure that is underpinned by a high speed, trusted and resilient infocomm infrastructure. To achieve “connectivity anytime, anywhere, on any device”, IDA is planning to facilitate the deployment of heterogeneous networks (“HetNets”), which comprise mobile, Wi-Fi and small cell networks, to enable seamless transition between mobile and wireless networks and data offloading. On top of enhancing the existing connectivity in Singapore with technologies such as that used in HetNets, the SNP is aimed at bringing together a nationwide sensor network and data analytics abilities, providing better situational awareness to enhance our living and work environment.
IDA recently set up three key initiatives as part of the soft infrastructure to drive innovation and boost the ecosystem, namely: the IDA Labs, Accelerator programme and Accreditation@IDA. The initiatives seek to foster a culture of creating and building with technology; provide promising start-ups with mentorship from successful entrepreneurs, domain specialists and investors; help innovative start-ups build credentials for future demand from large enterprises and the government.
Data and analytics are critical; they underpin Singapore’s efforts to become a ‘smart’ nation. IDA takes an integrated approach that involves catalysing demand and seeding early adoption of analytics in key industry sectors, developing infocomm industry and manpower capabilities, establishing scalable and secure data exchange platforms, formulating the appropriate data policies, and developing “data hubs” that will deliver innovative data services and applications.
What are the methods that you’re looking at to optimise spectrum usage in the coming years?
IDA uses a multi-prong approach to optimise spectrum usage which includes:
- Encouraging early adoption and deployment of more advanced technologies such as LTE that are more spectrally efficient and have higher throughput capacity;
- Facilitating and developing regulatory frameworks for new technologies such as Dynamic Spectrum Access (“DSA”) which make more optimal use of underutilised frequency bands;
- Encouraging infrastructure investments by the industry to enhance capacity, such as through deployment of HetNets (including small cells) which allow for better utilisation of the same spectrum resource; and
- Market-based allocation mechanism such as spectrum auctions to efficiently allocate scarce spectrum to those who value the spectrum most.
Do you believe tight regulation is the best way of moving the LTE market forward in the region?
IDA’s key regulatory principles of relying on market forces, adopting proportionate regulation and remaining technology-neutral remain relevant in today’s market environment. These principles are aimed at creating an infocomm environment that enables aggressive yet fair competition, thereby facilitating greater choice, more competitively priced infocomm products and services, and greater innovation.
What are you most looking forward to about attending LTE Asia this year?
I look forward to hearing from industry experts and leaders on the developments of the LTE market and future advances such as 5G, as well as being able to share our views from the Singapore perspective at LTE Asia this year.