Wi-Fi for everything and the kitchen sink can be a reality

IMDA proposal for new building code sees fully wired-up homes

All new homes will soon be fitted with wiring that delivers high- speed fibre broadband to every room, including the kitchen, and the main entrance - if a new building code gets the green light.

The proposal by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) is in anticipation of the advent of smart devices in homes - such as a connected fridge to keep track of groceries, and motion detectors and surveillance cameras for security - as part of Singapore's smart nation drive.

IMDA also proposed the mandatory installation of a second fibre termination point in every home, according to a consultation paper it released yesterday.

Developers have been required by law to install one fibre termination point since May 2013, recognising that telecommunications wiring is as essential as electricity points and water pipes.

But IMDA said the current building code - dubbed the Code of Practice for Info-communication Facilities in Buildings, last revised in 2013 - mandating fibre termination point in every home " may not be sufficient".

"With the increasing reliance on and pervasive usage of smart devices, which are not confined to any one space within the home, it may be prudent to ensure that other spaces such as the residential unit's main entrance and kitchen be equipped to cater for such developments," it added.

The proposed changes follow legislative amendments to the Telecommunications Act, which came into effect in February.

The building code must be amended to reflect changes in the legislation that give IMDA wider powers to, among other things, direct building owners to provide rent-free rooftop space for mobile equipment and allow the equipment on their premises to provide mobile signals to neighbouring areas.

IMDA hopes to use the consultation to also address other issues before revising the building code.

Among the new proposals, IMDA also specified two hours as a reasonable notification period for building owners with round-the-clock security management to provide emergency access to mobile equipment on their premises.

"Undue delay by building owners (and) managers to provide emergency access to space and facilities may affect service restoration and result in significant inconvenience to the affected public," said IMDA, noting that emergency access delays are common today.

For buildings that do not have round-the-clock security management, building owners must work out with telcos an acceptable notice period for emergency access, said IMDA. The consultation will end on May 24.

Businessman Harry Chew, 47, gave the thumbs up to the proposal. "I would love to have cameras, air-conditioning and doors all controlled by an app on my phone or laptop - without running Wi-Fi range extenders or rewiring," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 27, 2017, with the headline 'Wi-Fi for everything and the kitchen sink can be a reality'. Print Edition | Subscribe