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RealTime IT News

Using Broadband to Enhance Lifestyle, Productivity

According to the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), about one-in-three, or 950,000, Singapore residents are now on broadband.

Due to deregulation of the telco industry, the country has seen the number of broadband service providers grow from two to 12. Access cost has also decreased by as much as five times over the last two years while the number of users have grown more than four times over the same period.

In a recent survey, entitled Survey of Broadband Users in Singapore, commissioned by IDA and conducted by Precision Research Services, it found that 92 percent of all broadband users went online at least two days a week. Amongst the home users, 52 percent use broadband to get the latest news, 45 percent to download music and about 33 percent played online games.

According to IDA's chairman, Lam Chuan Leong, Singapore is ready for its next phase of broadband adoption. One of the plans is to set aside about US$8.6 million to develop innovative applications and services for the home and community environment.

For the home environment, it aims to develop end-to-end home-networking solutions connecting intelligent home appliances and communications devices. A call for collaboration (CFC) will be made on 25th April 2002 for industry members. The CFC will provide a platform for them to come together and submit joint proposals of integrated solutions for the home.

For the community environment, it aims to develop a range of services that connect the community, from healthcare providers to community groups and businesses.

IDA is already working with specific sectors to help accelerate the effective and innovative use of broadband amongst businesses aimed at enhancing productivity, business processes and expanding market reach. Some of these sectors include Media & Culture, Legal Services, Finance & Insurance and Hospitality & Tourism.

Multi-party Web-based video conferencing between the Supreme Court, Subordinate courts, the Attorney-Generals chambers and legal firms is an example of how businesses can use broadband to be more productive.

Developed with the Internet Video-Conferencing Center and Bizibody Technology, this system could save the legal industry US$16 million a year. Lawyers can now conduct administrative or non-contentious hearings with the court from their offices. Savings in traveling and waiting time mean more productive billable time.

In the media industry, the IDA is working with the Singapore Film Commission to encourage the creation of digital films which can be screened both in theatres or online.

Said assistant chief executive for Infocomm Development at IDA, Khoong Hock Yun: "Moving forward, we would like to see the usage of broadband deepen with applications like telecommuting and e-learning that creates a linkage between the work, home and school environments. This seamless connectivity will help enhance our quality of life, enable businesses to be more competitive and realize our vision of a Connected Island."

To raise consumer awareness and adoption of broadband services, IDA will kick off a Broadband Month in April where entertainment buffs will be treated to online movie trailers, new sound tracks and the latest entertainment news.

Gaming enthusiasts can try their hands at two Massively Multi-Player online games and there will be e-learning packages available for children as well as adults who wish to upgrade themselves. More locally hosted Chinese news and information, entertainment, games and learning content will be available.