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.

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