Yesterday Singapore announced it was building a next generation broadband network that would bring 3 gigabits per second to each home. The government will supply $750 million to put the fiber optic conduit and two private companies are bidding to run the network. What’s most important from a policy standpoint is that the network will be run on an open access policy. For those of us who believe in Network Neutrality, it is a breath of fresh air.
Any operator can plug into it for a fee and provide Internet, IPTV and telephony services. No single operator will be allowed to own the network and block newcomers from accessing it.
Last night I toured with my host the new Fusionopolis Complex where many of the creative industries are starting to locate. They have everything from a Lucasfilm animation facility to a state of the art Biotec research center. It is a brilliantly designed complex of live-work spaces with large swaths of green park, all built, ironically on the military bases of the former British Army Colonial occupiers. The attention to cutting edge detail in the building is astonishing right down to the acoustic sound treatment on the auditorium walls–millions of teak balls with hollow centers that baffle sound. Because Singapore has very little fresh water they have already deployed on a wide scale desalinization and reverse osmosis water recycling plants and are beginning to sell the technology to an increasingly water starved world. Some of the work they are doing in browser based 3-D virtual worlds sounds to be on the leading edge of what you will see in the coming years.
One of our community has pointed out that Singapore is a command and control economy. I am well aware of this, but the reality of being in a country that does not have a huge military budget, is not in debt to the world and in fact generates surplus capital from its trade balance is quite stark. It means it can invest in next generation technologies, build cutting edge research labs with the world’s great universities, educate all its students brilliantly and bilingually and–when needed bail out the West’s failing financial system.
Imagine what the US could do for its citizens if it wasn’t so busy spending its blood and treasure “fighting the last war?”