January 4th, 2008

Singapore National Broadband Network


Several weeks ago, Dr Lee Boon Yang, Minister for Information, Communications And The Arts, announced the launch of the RFP National Broadband Network (NBN) project for Singapore. The NBN project comes with a carrot of S$750m is a passive optical network fiber to the home (FTTH) that “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.”

Surprisingly, there aren’t so much talks in the industry about the project. Perhaps it is something almost everyone wants to part-take as we can see from the 12 shortlisted consortium. The most prominent comment is a single word “Idiosyncratic” said the CEO of Telstra, who have no direct interest in this effect except perhaps not to see Australia going down the same path.

The comment probably refers to the layer separation of the services1 (see NBM slides Page 14)


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June 28th, 2007

The Sad State of Wireless@SG

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Nine months ago, I whined about how I was unable to get any wifi access in Funan, the IT hub in Singapore. With the launch of Wireless@SG in Dec last year, this is suppose to solve that problem.

Or is it more like this?


Thats what I got when I am back in the same place in Funan today. I spend 2 hours in the cafe in between my meetings and more than half of the time I am fighting to get connectivity. It is horrible and frustrating experience.

Now, you may say it is an one-off experience but actually it is pretty common.

I have seen being to places where it is suppose to have Wireless@SG coverage but no signal. I have gotten signal but the DHCP does not work. I have gotten both signal and IP address but no connectivity. I have gotten connectivity but DNS not functioning. I have gotten everything to work except it is extremely slow or with very high packet loses.

I like to hang out in Rochester Park lately and for the last 4 weeks, they have a non-functioning Wireless@SG signal there. It works for a couple of week before that. When it goes down, I thought the operator monitoring will pick up and get it fixed. 4 weeks now, I lost all hope they will ever get it fixed. I check with IDA website only to tell me to contact the operator. I email the operator and I get no response.

Finding a functioning Wireless@SG is as rare as striking lottery.

I cannot help but compare my experience in Kuala Lumpur. It is true that I get free wireless only at Starbuck (hence less coverage) but it works most of the time. A sharp contrast with a larger coverage Wireless@SG which DONT work most of the time. I rather take the former.

But heck, I shouldn’t complain right? It is “FREE” service.

No, sorry, it isnt free. It is paid for by IDA and some part of that money comes from the tax I pay. So long IDA pays for it, then make sure it actually works. This is not a community best-effort or FON network – it is a network paid for by tax-payer money.

ps: IDA already knew the problem, I am told. They had done their study on the quality of Wireless@SG. I am just ranting here because I am really frustrated at the 2 hours I wasted trying to get the Wireless@SG to work.

November 19th, 2006

No more one more year!

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Had a long coffee chat with a former colleague from IDA yesterday. It was nice to know whats happening with the team as well the usual corporate gossips. It is even nicer to confirm one of the work I started is indeed going places, not just to the Cabinet (and PM was there :-) but also COPS (Committee of PS) as well as the ultra-elite Pyramid Club1. And as expected the 20min timeslot given was not enough and as usual, a lively discussion :-)

Hearing these stories makes me wonder if I should have left IDA in the first place. I missed all the fun!

Just before meeting this colleague of mine, I was meeting with an investment banker whom I recently know as we are working together on a project. So we were just trading histories and I blurt out “I spent 3 years in IDA…but I think it is one year too long”. He gave me a suprised look and said “You dont like IDA?”.

No, I absolutely love IDA. In fact, leaving IDA is one of the hardest thing I had to do in my career. “There is no better place for a technologist like me to work in Singapore. Tracking technology trends is a hobby and doing it as a living is even better. Not only that, it gives me opportunities using technology to make a difference to the society (hopefully for the better).” still remains true. Making it harder was the fact I had nothing to fall back to. Essentially, I am resigning without knowing what I am going to do next. (It has to do with a promise of staying back until my replacement is found but no longer than that)

Yet now that I taken that step into the unknown, I realized I should have done so earlier. Like the story of “Who moved my cheese”, the journey of the seeking is exhilarant, the savour of the new cheese even more.

Looking back, it was the same experience when I resigned as CTO of my previous company. I had an extremely well-paid senior management position. I left without anything to fall back and after several months, I landed in IDA, with a paycut no less. But I was having so much fun in IDA that I told myself, “Damn, I should had done so an year earlier”. Not that I wasnt having fun either in my previous job.

Sincerely, I enjoyed all my jobs. I would not have taken a job that I know I dont enjoyed in the first place. Each of them is challenging, pushing me to higher and most of all the experience is valuable. But as fun as it is, as challenging as any work is, once is fun, twice is okay, thrice is boring and if remains the same, become monotonous2. Eventually I will find myself dragging myself to work.

Thats when I know it is time for me to leave.

The only problem is I always waited one year too long to leave.

So no more. This is a promise that I pick up the courage and be true to myself. No more dragging myself to work and feeling life sucked out of me. When I know it is time to leave and if it is the time for me to leave, I shall leave, as soon as possible.

No more one more year.

1 You wont find info about the Pyramid Club anywhere on Net. It is an exclusive invite-only club that comprises of the whos and whos in Singapore from both public and private sector. I had a mentor who was once a club member.

2 Don’t get me wrong, there are many many people who likes predictable work. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If anything else, I am the odd ball. Thats just me.

January 6th, 2006

Developing the Advance Research and Education Network in Singapore


I wrote an article for the Dec issue of SingaporeWave the monthly newsletter published by IDA. Check out the other issues of Singapore Wave too while you are there.


In the early days, Internet is a research and education network among the major universities. It is a “playground” for academics to experiment with network technologies and develop new applications, many are still being use today like TCP/IP, Email and the World Wide Web.
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September 12th, 2005

Proposed Spam Control Bill for Singapore

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IDA & AGC Seek Second Round Views on Proposed Spam Control Bill for Singapore

The proposed Spam Control Bill includes, in addition to email spam, legal measures to manage mobile spam in Singapore. The Bill also proposes that anyone who suffers damages or loss arising from spam be given the right to initiate legal action against non-compliant spammers. The draft Bill also proposes that if found guilty, non-compliant spammers can be directed by the court to stop their spamming activities or pay damages to the affected parties.

September 9th, 2005

Its all about Numbers

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Two news from IDA regarding numbers and numbers :-)

1. Public consultation on Number Portability (pdf)

IDA intends to review the implementation for number portability for fixed line and mobile telecommunications services in Singapore. The review is in with IDA’s policy objectives of promoting competition in the infocommunications sector to benefit of consumers and businesses in Singapore

What we have in Singapore now is “Call Forwarding” and we are trying to move to “Onward Routing” or “All Call Query”. Both will give us true number portability (ie, the Caller ID will match your number) but the difference is the efficiency of the system. If a small percentage of users do number port, then Onward Routing is more efficient and if a large percentage of users do number port, then ACQ will be more efficient.

2. IDA Announces Results for Numbers Auction & Launches ENUM Pilot Trial

The IP Telephony numbers auction and ENUM pilot trial is a follow-up from IDA’s launch of the IP Telephony and ENUM policy framework in June this year. The framework is designed to facilitate the entry of companies interested in offering IP Telephony services in Singapore and is expected to bring about reduced costs and more choices in providing telephone services.

On the auction, 4 operators got “3” level number (ie. +65 3xxx xxxx). Personally, I am fairly excited about this because this means we may likely to see at least 3 new VoIP operators (China Motion, I2U and SuperInternet Access) in Singapore hopefully soon :-)

June 14th, 2005

Singapore policy framework for IP Telephony

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After working on it for almost two years, we finally got our IP Telephony policy framework.

In the bid for lower costs, consumers are increasingly using the Internet and other Internet Protocol (IP)-based networks to make local and international voice calls, together with, or as alternatives to traditional fixed-line telephony. To advance Singapore’s development in this market segment, Dr Lee Boon Yang announced today that the Singapore Government will introduce a new policy framework for Internet Protocol (IP) Telephony.”

I wish I could say more of the two years journey but I rather be careful in this particular case in anycase anyone took my words as been official.

In anycase, I am very proud of this framework: we allows pure service provider to be allocated numbering resources yet “not required to provide number portability, emergency service connection, directory enquiry and printed directory services, or conform to QoS levels“.

Now, contrast that with FCC.

June 3rd, 2005

Public Lecture by Dave Farber at SMU



farber_david.gifSMU, working with my group in IDA, is organizing a public lecture by Dave Farber titled “The Technical and Societal Implications of Networking” on 22nd June.

Involved with networking for over 45 years, Professor Farber has provided extensive guidance and advice on areas of high performance computing, communications and IT. In the year 2000, he served as Chief Technologist at the U.S. Federal Communications Commission ( FCC ). He was the recipient of the 1995 ACM Sigcomm Award for life long contributions to the computer communications field. In 1996, he was awarded the prestigious John Scott Award for Inventions that have contributed to Humanity (previous recipients include Madam Curie, Thomas Edison and The Wright Brothers).

Do not miss the opportunity of the life time to meet the Grandfather of Internet! Registration is now open but do it fast because we only have limited places.

May 12th, 2005

iN 2015


in2015.jpgA few days ago, IDA announced the next phase after Connected Singapore plan called iN 2015 (Intelligent Nation 2015)1, a IT masterplan for the next 10 years for Singapore for work, life and leisure. Unlike previous masterplan where it is done internally, this time IDA is engaging the community to provide input to this masterplan.

So where do you want Singapore to be in 2015?

Decisions are made by those who show up so do participate!

1 Also see IDA Press Release

April 12th, 2005

Interview with Digital Life

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Last week, we had an interview with Aaran Tan (of Digital Life) in IDA. He is looking for something to write on Semantic Web so we took an opportunity to show him the Digital Content Exchange prototype. The article was published today. Overall, great article for a layman to understand Semantic Web (he removed all the technical jargon like taxonomy, thesaurus, OWL/ontology etc :-).

I only have any one quibble – the article make Semantic Web sound like just another-grand-search-engine. The really core idea is with tagging and onotology, software can be written to do locate resources much better. It isn’t just about search – it is about how to find the information and search is just one way to do so.

Thanks Aaron! Aaron is really a cool guy – he is also trying to find OSS stories to write about. :-)
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