Next-Gen Broadband in Singapore

Singapore has recently taken a step towards having an open access Next Generation National Broadband Network (Next Gen NBN), which will offer pervasive ultra-high speed connectivity by 2015. The Request-For-Proposal (RFP) is now open to all interested parties to submit their bid to design, build and operate the passive infrastructure layer of the Next Gen NBN.

At a media briefing this evening for the RFP's launch, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, Dr Lee Boon Yang said, "The Next Gen NBN will offer pervasive and competitively priced ultra high-speed broadband connectivity to business users at the workplace as well as to Singaporeans at home, schools and learning institutions and other premises."

The Next Gen NBN is expected to be available nationwide by 2015, although consumers can begin to look forward to a range of new and exciting Next Gen Services such as high-definition video conferencing, telemedicine, Grid Computing-on-Demand, security and immersive learning applications on the Next Gen NBN from about 2010.

The recent RFP has been formulated after an extensive year-long industry consultation and studies of deployments internationally. This RFP seeks proposals from industry to put in place the passive infrastructure of Next Gen NBN. Under this RFP, a Network Company, or NetCo, will be selected to design, build and operate this passive infrastructure that will carry the traffic for Next Generation Services. The deployment of active electronics such as switches and routers to manage the flow of traffic on the passive infrastructure will be done by what is called the Operating Company or OpCo, which will also be the entity that offers wholesale broadband access to downstream Retail Service Providers, or RSPs. The latter are the companies that provide Next Generation Services to end-users.

"A Next Generation Broadband Network will contribute to Singapore's continued economic success. It is also critical for the Next Gen NBN to provide effective open access to downstream operators. This will create a more vibrant and competitive broadband market. As a policy, we have therefore decided to adopt separation between the different levels of the Next Gen NBN to achieve effective open access. The RFP to construct the network will therefore provide for structural separation of the passive network operator from the downstream operators. If necessary, the Government is also prepared to consider legislation to achieve such effective open access for downstream operators in the next generation broadband market," said Dr Lee. "The Next Gen NBN tender will require that the appointed NetCo be structurally separated from downstream operators and vice versa to be consistent with the policy objective of effective open access. The successful bidder in the RFP would have met the requirements of effective open access."

The Next Gen NBN will require the OpCo to be operationally separated between the Next Gen NBN OpCo and RSPs. Operational separation while less onerous than structural separation, requires the Next Gen NBN OpCo to maintain separated operations, branding, personnel and board of directors.

Under the terms of the Next Gen NBN NetCo RFP recently launched, the Government is prepared to provide a grant of up to S$750 million for the project. The RFP, which is expected to close on 25 March, 2008, will be evaluated based on four key criteria:

  1. Attractiveness of business plan to industry
  2. Quality of network infrastructure
  3. Level of Government grant
  4. Financial proposition and strength of bidder

The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) expects to award the winning bid in the third quarter of 2008. Interested parties are required to demonstrate their capabilities to pre-qualify for the bidding by completing and submitting to IDA the administrative forms available from the Government online procurement portal at