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Internet

Singapore gets wired

Singapore says it will connect all of its networks maintained by Internet service providers, businesses, and the government.

    Despite intense efforts to take control of the Internet, Singapore today said it will connect all of its networks maintained by Internet service providers, businesses, and the government.

    The Internetwork Hub (I-Hub) will bring together separate networks in an effort to make it easy for Singapore citizens to access important information, according to an Associated Press report.

    Singapore's actions are important because the city-state has taken the lead on many Internet regulation issues, especially among developing Asian nations. To date, Singapore's actions have been primarily restrictive, regulating political, religious, and pornographic content. The instigation of I-Hub, however, may help boost the Internet throughout the region because it highlights the Net's benefits instead of its dangers.

    Most networks in Singapore are operated separately, including MediNet, a medical information provider, LawNet, a legal information provider, and the Network for Electronic Transfers, an electronic cash shopping system.

    I-Hub, scheduled for availability by December, will end the problems of trying to find a free telephone connection and going through Internet hubs in the United States to make connections with other networks.

    The I-Hub will be built on the existing Internet backbone operated by Singapore's three ISPs.

    Singapore officials say the I-Hub will provide citizens with gateways to new communication modes like interactive television, home video shopping, and image transferring. "The ability to process and deliver critical information may mean the difference between winning and losing," said Goh Chee Wee, junior communications manager of I-Hub to the AP.

    The I-Hub is the latest effort of Singapore's promise to link the city to the Internet by the year 2000. Singapore has an estimated 150,000 Internet users and is populated by 3.3 million people.