Scheme to speed up fibre service delivery signs up 200 commercial buildings, new developer

SINGAPORE - Close to 200 commercial buildings have signed up for a scheme that will see fibre optic cables installed in their premises, regardless of whether they plan to take up the fibre broadband services.

The move is a bid to shorten the time businesses take to get fibre broadband services.

The latest to join the programme is Singapore-based developer Ascendas-Singbridge, which manages more than 130 properties here including the Singapore Science Park and Changi City at Changi Business Park.

It will bring some 70 buildings it manages under Singapore's Fibre Ready Scheme, announced in February 2014 to get building owners to cooperate with fibre optic cable installations to ease delays in getting fibre broadband services.

Mr Tan Yew Chin, Ascendas-Singbridge Group's chief executive officer in Singapore & Southeast Asia said that being part of the Fibre Ready Scheme will result "in a faster turnaround time for customers applying for fibre broadband services".

The group has engaged telco M1 to install the fibre optic cables in 70 buildings, with its first completed project at an integrated office and retail building Ascent located along Singapore Science Park.

Currently, businesses wait for three weeks or more to get their fibre broadband orders delivered after placing an order with Internet service providers such as StarHub, M1, MyRepublic and ViewQwest. Delays had been attributed to building owners putting up resistance in the various permit applications for installation works.

For instance, contractors must lay cables from a building's main telecom room, where Singapore's ultra-high speed fibre broadband network currently terminates, to the individual units each time an order comes in. This has resulted in coordination nightmares.

However, under the Fibre Ready Scheme, cables to every unit is installed even before businesses order their fibre broadband packages. There is no need for contractors to do any installation works any more, thus allowing fibre broadband services to be delivered in about a week.

To date, 50 buildings - including City Square Mall, Katong V, The South Beach and 211 Henderson Industrial Park - have been installed with these cables under the $200 million Fibre Ready Scheme, administered by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).

The agency subsidises up to 90 per cent of the cost of additional fibre capacity in commercial buildings, capped at $300,000 per building. In exchange, building owners must facilitate additional works required to offer fibre services to tenants.

Businesses had faced perpetual delays in receiving their fibre broadband orders. For this, Singapore's high-speed fibre broadband network builder Netlink Trust, formerly OpenNet, had been fined mutiple times.

Last week (Oct 27), Netlink Trust received its fifth fine in four years for failing to deliver fibre broadband orders to home and business users on time. It was fined $300,000 for failing to connect 80 per cent of new business sign-ups within four weeks of the order date in 11 out of 12 months last year (2015). It also did not complete all business orders within eight weeks as required last year (2015).

The remaining $200,000 fine was for causing delays to home users between January last year and June this year.

itham@sph.com.sg