Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Goodbye, Ricky Wong. Singapore Will Miss You

In latest developments regarding Singapore's NGNBN, City Telecom, formerly the consortium lead of Infinity consortium, has pulled out of the race for NetCo, reports Reuters:
StarHub leads group in S'pore broadband network bid
Wed Aug 20, 2008 1:13am EDT

SINGAPORE, Aug 20 (Reuters) - StarHub Ltd, Singapore's No. 2 telecoms firm, will lead the consortium bidding to build the city-state's next-generation broadband network, consortium member MobileOne said on Wednesday. StarHub replaces Hong Kong's City Telecom (CTI) who has dropped out.

Qatar Investment Authority, the Middle Eastern state's investment vehicle, has also joined the consortium, the statement said. (Reporting by Jennifer Tan; Edited by Saeed Azhar)

© Thomson Reuters 2008.
The silence of City Telecom on why this happened will certainly leave interested observers puzzled and curious as to the cause of this recent events. This is especially so considering the tremendous enthusiasm displayed by Ricky Wong, CEO of City Telecom and de facto leader of Infinity, for Singapore's NGNBN.

Ricky's interview with the Business Times demonstrated that he was a man with a dream – to ensure that in five years there would be fibre to most homes in Singapore. Ricky's vision was for Singapore, along with Hong Kong, to become a model for the rest of the world.
"The Americans and Europeans will come here to learn and follow us. We will become the technology leaders.”
This was a dream that would surely have benefited Singapore, and Mr Wong reckoned that tech-savvy people worldwide would then see that Singapore would be the best place to live, work and play – better than Silicon Valley, because it would have the best infrastructure. Unfortunately, for better or for worse, Ricky and his team are no longer in the running for the multi-billion dollar NGNBN project.

Can Infinity deliver without him? CTI's departure must have been due to significant developments in the NGNBN NetCo tender. Starhub and M1 are still around, but CTI's involvement was Infinity's trump card. CTI's unparalled experience with FTTH networks in Hong Kong is no longer part of Infinity's package. Now that the Hong Kongnese are no longer around, one wonders how much steam there is left in Infinity's bid.

Meanwhile, OpenNet's consortium members will surely be quietly smiling to themselves in the light of this new development. With CTI gone, there is no foreign technical expertise in the Infinity consortium, OpenNet will surely hold the edge with Axia's solid experience in operating open access fibre networks, along with mighty SingTel backing the group.

Yet, the tender process is not over, and we might see surprises again.

But for now, all I can say is, goodbye Ricky. Your vision for Singapore was an inspiring, compelling one. Those who knew your vision for the country will surely miss you.


Alfred Siew said...

It's indeed sad that some of the best ideas and energy which came from CTI will not be here when the projects commences, no matter who wins the bid in the end. Ricky Wong was indeed a guy with a vision, and the balls to back it up.

Xtrocious said...

Indeed, I was told by insider sources that CTI was the driving force behind the consortium...

Now without CTI, it looks bleak for M1 and StarHub's bid...

Then again, industry watchers have always favoured the opposing camp...

So the picture did not really change?