SG Next-Gen National Broadband Network starts rollout

The Next-Gen National Broadband Network, in Singapore’s bid to make up for lost ground against countries such as South Korea and Japan, has been rolled out amidst much fanfare by the passive infrastructure company (NetCo), otherwise known as OpenNet.  OpenNet is a joint venture of four partners – Axia NetMedia (Axia), Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel), Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) and SP Telecommunications (SPT).  Earlier this year, IDA had awarded the tender with a grant amount of S$750 million to OpenNet to design, build and operate the passive infrastructure of the new network.

This entire exercise is the culmination of some innovative regulatory policy making by IDA, which sees its telecom regulatory arm mandating structural separation requirements in a bid to stimulate competition on the retail service providers’ layer.

Industry structure of Singapore's Next-Gen National Broadband Network (NGNBN)

Check out the following Youtube video for footage of fibre reaching the first home in Singapore.  For more background, hop on over to IDA’s NGNBN info page.

OpenNet Fibre Rollout Sign-up a Cinch

Our family was lucky enough to be residing in a residential area that would be hooked up come November this year.  We received our welcome letter from OpenNet.  Being the resident geek, I took it upon myself to schedule for the wiring-up process.  The online sign-up process worked like a breeze.  Kudos to OpenNet’s web design agency – you guys did an excellent job!

Screen grab of the intro at OpenNet's corporate site

Screen grab of the intro at OpenNet's corporate site

From 100mbps (Starhub HFC) to 1Gbps (OpenNet fiber)

I love speed, and appreciate our government’s efforts at putting Singapore within bragging range of Asia’s internet speed demons; but really, why the heck are we spending S$750 million of taxpayer’s money on fiber to the home when we aren’t proportionately increasing our external bandwidth?  Singapore may be a reliable data center location for South-east Asia, but we have yet to gain serious traction in our initiatives to attract popular overseas content to be mirrored out of Singapore.  It’s no secret that the high cost of power (due to Singapore’s dependency on imported fuel) has been the stumbling block for Google’s server farms to be co-located in Singapore together with its Singapore office.  The argument for futuristic high-bandwidth services to enhance the way we live, work and play remains a weak sell, since you don’t really need 1Gbps when we have yet to break a sweat downloading porn, bootleg software and games and watching video on our existing hybrid coaxial-fiber (HFC) infrastructure.

Yet, rationality never gets much say in the face of a combined force of the pages of history (á la Singapore ONE) and a desire for parity with Singapore’s oft-mentioned broadband-crazy competitors.  Just as it was in the case of Singtel winning the broadcast rights for EPL, the case for expensive clunky fiber has been endorsed, signed and sealed.  Build a field of dreams, and the rest will fall into place. Resistance is futile.  HSDPA, 4G and WiMax be damned.  Death to pragmatism.

At S$750 million for approximately 3.2 million Singaporeans, the final bill comes up to a mere S$234.38 per Singaporean to gain access to a thin flexible glass rod.  Surely this must be something we citizens of a first-world nation can afford?

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About James Chan

James Chan is an entrepreneur, investor, geek, photographer and husband/father based out of Singapore. Apart from frequent travels to Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia for work, James can also be found online via his trusty 15″ Retina MacBook Pro or iPhone 6+.