Singapore becomes regional hub for GPRS roaming

Singapore will be Asia’s first neutral Peering Point for general packet radio service (GPRS) roaming exchange (GRX) providers.

With new S$1 million (US$577,000) peering infrastructure in place, Singapore will have the advantage of being the regional nexus for GPRS roaming services and traffic.

The announcement, which makes Singapore the second GRX in the world after Amsterdam, was made by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore last week.

The Asian GRX Peering Point in Singapore will provide direct international connectivity to over 100 countries, high-speed submarine cable capacity of 21Tbps, high bandwidth and direct Internet connectivity to 30 key regional markets. These features will enable users to gain faster access to up and coming mobile services such as m-commerce, messaging, location-based services and corporate services.

The initial infrastructure investment will be borne by the selected Peering Point operator. Additional investments in expanding infrastructure (switches and routers) will be borne by the GRX providers.

Ling Keok Tong, deputy director for Infocomm Infrastructure Development at IDA said, “IDA’s role was to facilitate the leading GRX providers to come together to establish Asia’s first GRX Peering Point in Singapore.”

By using a hub-based model, partners involved in each hub can interconnect using this hub, or Peering Point. In a GRX, GPRS mobile operators interconnect their networks by connecting to a dedicated IP-based and secured network. This means GPRS roaming links an operator to partner networks by connecting to the GRX operator of choice.

Unlike voice telephony, the bandwidth characteristics of moving data over general system for mobile communications (GSM) requires a more organized approach than just wiring up directly to another service provider.

The positioning of the Singapore Peering Point is in anticipation of the growth of GPRS services and volumes around the world.

An International Data Corporation (IDC) report on mobile subscriber growth in the Asia Pacific (excluding Japan), estimates that the number of mobile subscribers will grow from 253.9 million in 2001 to 558.4 million by 2006. This represents a compounded annual growth rate of 17 per cent.

Ling said, “Singapore will become the key exchange point for GPRS roaming services and traffic in Asia Pacific. And, there will be potential for Singapore’s wireless developers to develop more applications and services to support the growth in data roaming services.”

Singapore’s Peering Point, which is expected to be operational in June 2003, will be run by a data centre operator on a commercial basis.