Singapore's broadband story started two decades ago

Singapore has one of the fastest broadband globally. Here's the story of how it came to be.

Singapore's broadband story started two decades ago
Photo Credit: Unsplash/shawnanggg

Singapore has one of the fastest broadband globally. Here's the story of how it came to be.

Somewhere last year, I wrote a three-part series for HardwareZone about the evolution of the broadband here.

Two were finally published over the last couple of weeks.

From dial-up to digital

As a user of dial-up modems in my teenage years, I remembered each evolution clear as day. Researching the various phases proved nostalgic:

  • Dial-up.
  • ADSL.
  • Cable Internet.
  • Fibre Internet.

The step into the future arguably began with the Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network (Next Gen NBN) initiative mooted in 2006.

So yes, today's 10Gbps symmetric broadband plans are essentially delivered on infrastructure drawn up almost 20 years ago - building fibre to the home was exceptional foresight.

Faster than 1,000Mbps

Last year, the government unveiled a new Digital Connectivity Blueprint to "upgrade Singapore's nationwide broadband speeds of up to 10Gbps" with completion subsequently pegged at 2026.

This might be puzzling to some who will point out that 10Gbps plans are already available. Yes, I asked too, but got fuzzy responses. I believe it's because Singapore agencies are concerned about confusing citizens who are not technical.

Here's my understanding:

🔸While today's network can deliver 10Gbps to individual homes, the network as a whole can't handle many 10Gbps users.

🔸Faster core routers and network switches are needed, and the cross-island fibre network must be substantially upgraded. This costs money that the government will now pay for.

Preparing for 10Gbps

But getting a full 10Gbps experience at home isn't as straightforward as it seems, too.

🔸Few laptops support wireless speeds of more than 1Gbps, and even then, only under optimal conditions.

🔸Wired ports of up to 2.5Gbps are starting to appear on PCs, but 10Gbps ports are still a rarity.

Ultimately, the only way to more fully use a 10Gbps connection is through a mesh Wi-Fi network linked by cables.

I was hence enthused when Singtel announced its new transparent fibre wiring offering, which offers "faster than 1Gbps" connectivity to individual rooms.

Read about it here:

Faster broadband is coming; I'm sure we will find it useful in ways we haven't even imagined yet.

👉 What would you use 10Gbps for?