The Foundational Role of Digital Infrastructure
Digital infrastructure – the submarine cables laid across ocean floors, satellites in space, optical fibre cables laid underground, mobile base stations on rooftops – is often unseen. Yet, it is the ‘invisible foundation’ upon which our digital economy and digital society are built.
Together with other essential elements such as a skilled workforce and an innovative digital ecosystem, digital infrastructure enhances our people’s social interactions, access to information, jobs, and quality of life; enables enterprises to transform their operations and service offerings; and strengthens Singapore’s position as a global hub.
MCI’s Approach to Building Digital Infrastructure
MCI’s approach toward building Singapore’s digital infrastructure centres on three core tenets.
- Making forward-looking investments – investing ahead of demand so that Singapore is ready to embrace opportunities when technological trends (e.g., Artificial Intelligence, autonomous systems, immersive experiences, distributed cloud, quantum technologies) mature, and has the capacity to deal with unexpected challenges (e.g., the surge in digital interactions during a pandemic).
Taking a holistic view of the digital infrastructure stack –looking beyond traditional connectivity to plan for the entire ‘digital infrastructure stack’ in an integrated manner:
a. hard infrastructure – traditional submarine cable, satellite, broadband, mobile and Wi-Fi networks, as well as Data Centres and cloud computing;
b. physical-digital infrastructure – devices, middleware, and networks that enable greater interaction between different digital infrastructure components and their integration with the physical world; and
c. soft infrastructure – the Singapore Digital Utility Stack, comprising the foundation for key digital transactions to be conducted seamlessly and securely, upon which businesses can build innovative platforms and applications.
- Playing to Singapore’s unique circumstances – accounting for Singapore’s limitations in land, carbon, and spectrum, while leveraging our strengths which include our competitive advantages in achieving widespread domestic connectivity and bringing ecosystem players together as a small, dense, urban city-state.
Our Strategic Priorities and Moves into New Frontiers
As part of Singapore’s Digital Connectivity Blueprint launched in June 2023, MCI has set out five strategic priorities to enhance our digital infrastructure and stay ahead of future trends and demand:
Provide capacity to enable submarine cable landings to double within the next 10 years;
Build seamless end-to-end 10 Gbps domestic connectivity within the next five years;
Ensure world-class resilience and security of increasingly critical compute infrastructure;
Pioneer a roadmap for the growth of new green Data Centres and push the sustainability envelope; and
Drive greater adoption of the Singapore Digital Utility Stack, to expand the benefits of seamless digital transactions.
We will also make moves in more nascent, frontier areas to reap future opportunities.
MCI will work with stakeholders in the public and private sectors to take these plans and ambitions forward. Ultimately, they are aimed at:
enhancing opportunities for our enterprises and people;
strengthening trust to participate in the digital economy and society confidently; and
empowering communities to connect and improve lives.
Ensuring an Effective and Conducive Regulatory Environment
Regulatory measures are one of the levers MCI employs to strengthen the resilience and robustness of our digital infrastructure.
We regularly review them to ensure they keep pace with technological advancements, business models, and our people’s needs. Examples of such measures include IMDA’s Code of Practice for Telecom Service Resilience and Quality of Service standards.
As outlined in the Digital Connectivity Blueprint, we will also explore the need to regulate critical components of the expanding digital infrastructure stack in a calibrated, risk-based manner.