RealTime IT News

Singapore Lifts 49 Percent Equity Barrier For Foreign Firms

Regulatory agency Telecommunication Authority of Singapore began lifting the 49 percent equity participation required by foreign companies to receive Internet licenses, but only on a case-by-case basis.

The agency said it will consider factors like the state of the market and the contribution the foreign partner makes to the domestic Internet market before giving any waivers.

The comments come after US-based ISP UUNet received regulatory approval to operate an internet exchange in Singapore without getting into a partnership which requires 51 percent local equity.

Under its wholly owned three-year Internet exchange service provider license, the US company will offer international Internet connectivity to licensed ISPs like SingNet, Pacific Internet, Cyberway and latest newcomer DataOne.

The agency said that it gave the green light to UUNet because it is a key player in the global Internet market and it will be able to contribute significantly to the competitiveness of the domestic market. Also, the company is committed to promoting the government's objective of making Singapore an Internet hub, it said.

In granting the license to UUNet, the agency said it had not changed its basic policy of requiring foreign equity participation for Internet operators.

The regulatory agency, which has said that it will study and make whatever changes necessary to make Singapore more competitive, also said in a statement that it has liberalized the transmission of VAN traffic over the Internet with immediate effect.

VAN operators, who provide customers with value-added services such as e-mail and electronic data interchange, can now carry their VAN traffic over the Internet. This is over and above the telephone network, which is now used to carry this traffic.

The move will allow VAN operators to provide a "wider range of low-cost services to users through harnessing the pervasiveness of the Internet," the agency said.