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Singapore is boosting its broadband for AI and autonomous vehicles

Abstract broadband network reprsentation

Yuichiro Chino/Getty Images

Singapore is looking to boost its national broadband network to better prepare for emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous vehicles. 

The country will set aside up to SG$100 million ($74.2 million) to upgrade the current nationwide network to deliver speeds of up to 10Gbps, according to Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA). The industry regulator projects that at least 500,000 households will sign up and access the upgraded network by 2028. 

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Work to boost the broadband infrastructure will begin from the middle of this year and continue through to 2026. Alongside 5G mobile services and higher Wi-Fi connectivity speeds, IMDA said the upgraded national broadband network will deliver more symmetric end-to-end 10Gbps connectivity across the island. 

“Digital technologies are developing rapidly, ranging from areas such as AI, immersive digital experiences, and autonomous devices,” it said. “A higher-capacity broadband network provides the foundation to enable these future innovations and opportunities. It is important for Singapore to invest ahead in foundational connectivity infrastructure, even as use cases continue to develop and evolve, so as to be future-ready.”

The upgraded 10Gbps network will provide the backbone for future applications and innovation, it added. 

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First unveiled in 2006, Singapore’s nationwide broadband network currently pushes connectivity speeds of 1Gbps to more than 85% of households.

The new SG$100 million investment will support upgrading efforts for both backend network and frontend user equipment, IMDA said.  

There are 1.43 million residential wired broadband subscriptions in Singapore, at a penetration rate of 91.8%, as of the third quarter of 2023. The number of wireless broadband subscriptions clocks at 11.03 million, according to the latest stats from IMDA

The Singapore government last June laid out a years-long Digital Connectivity Blueprint to ensure its digital infrastructure is ready for future technologies. The roadmap encompasses physical infrastructures, including broadband, mobile networks, and data centers, as well as “digital utilities” to facilitate secure and seamless cross-border transactions. These transactions include e-payments and invoicing, data exchanges, document authentication, and identity verification.

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The blueprint requires significant resources, the government had said, with submarine cables and data centers among big-ticket items that will drive some SG$20 billion ($14.84 billion) in investments. Of this funding, SG$10 billion to SG$12 billion is expected to go toward building new green data centers, where the private sector is expected to fund most of the investments. 

Last week, Singapore announced plans to invest at least SG$1 billion ($741.97 million) over five years to accelerate AI development, including securing access to the necessary compute power and skillsets. The funding is part of the government’s fiscal 2024 budget, which also comprises the latest SG$100 million investment in the 10Gbps broadband network. 

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