14 January 2003
StarHub stands by its announcement dated 8 October 2002 that it is our belief that Singapore would benefit most by allowing mobile operators here to make their own decisions about when and how to implement 3G services. Natural competitive dynamics would encourage operators to build 3G as quickly as commercially feasible and as demand picks up. Only that approach would ensure that 3G services are delivered as desired by consumers, and at an infrastructure cost that ensures prices are as affordable as possible.
"We do believe in an exciting 3G future and we have plans to trial 3G type services this year. But there will be a huge incremental 3G investment by all three operators in meeting IDA's imposed rollout deadline. In a highly saturated and relatively small market like Singapore, we are concerned that the higher costs could be passed on to the existing users one way or the other. We had proposed a possible better way forward that would have ensured more affordable 3G services while also keeping Singapore relevant in the fast moving wireless industry," said Mr Terry Clontz, President and CEO of StarHub.
StarHub believes that consumers will continue to demand fashionable and reasonably priced handsets, and will use wireless data services that are meaningful and affordable. Consumers are not concerned about the underlying technology as long as it meets their needs.
StarHub had suggested a possible better way forward. One way might be to deploy an evolutionary technology referred to as EDGE, which is the technology being deployed in North America's GSM networks. Industry watchers believe EDGE will be available well before WCDMA is commercially ready, and that EDGE handsets will be more affordable. Furthermore, there are no consumer based 3G services contemplated by any operator in the next two to three years that are beyond the advertised capabilities of EDGE.
As EDGE is a natural step in the direction of WCDMA, it would not eliminate the opportunity to deploy WCDMA in the future as demand picks up. Unfortunately though, deploying WCDMA first as IDA requires, only ensures that the highest cost of wireless data delivery is deployed first.
StarHub had plans to trial EDGE this year before committing to the technology. However, with IDA’s decision today, we will begin plans to implement a WCDMA network by December 2004 in accordance with IDA's requirements.
Undoubtedly, there is adequate time to complete a full 3G WCDMA system by 2004. However, IDA's decision will eliminate, as a practical matter, certain technology paths, including EDGE. In our opinion, it is unwise to eliminate these options at this time as this may translate to higher costs for consumers in the long run.