28 Feb
2000

Net2Room Creates New Internet Services Market for Hospitality Industry

Adopters can begin offering guest rooms with broadband Internet access and related services

SINGAPORE, 28 February 2000 -- Net2room.com Pte Ltd, a pioneer provider of broadband Internet access to the hospitality industry, today announced details of its services for the hospitality industry. Available to owners and operators of hotels and serviced apartments, net2room.com will deliver Internet-related services to individual guestrooms via broadband- capable PCs.

Net2room.com is a joint venture between four companies: communications, multimedia and Internet technology leader Aztech Systems (SESDAQ: AZTECH); a leading owner and manager of serviced residences and retail properties, Somerset Holdings Limited (SES: Somerset); local Internet solutions provider StartUps.Com Pte Ltd; and IT hardware supplier AVSdotcom Pte Ltd.

In the new Millennium, business travellers expect high speed hassle free and affordable Internet access. Internet enabled hotels/serviced apartments are becoming increasingly important in hotel choices for business travellers.

Net2room creates a revenue sharing opportunity for hotels/serviced residence’ managers who are seeking to address this cyber challenge. Net2room uses Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) technology from Aztech to provide broadband Internet access to hotels/serviced apartments without the need for cabling work. It allows business travellers with Ethernet-ready notebook computers to enjoy the convenience of high speed Internet Access without having to change the settings or to reconfigure their computers.

Net2room will also provide e-commerce opportunities to the hotels/serviced residences with a secured payment gateway. As a portal for the business travellers, it will offer a targeted audience for web advertising, promotions and other Internet businesses.

According to a report by industry analyst Dataquest Research dated Nov 1999, the “availability of broadband Internet access will become a must for all hospitality service providers by the year 2001”. In line with this projection, net2room.com has begun rolling out its services, initially to properties owned and managed by Somerset Holdings. Net2room.com will pilot the programme in 500 serviced residences managed by Somerset Holdings, using existing telephone wires.

Reliable and Fast Access for Guest

Dial-up connectivity, especially when combined with the complications of connecting through a less-than-friendly roaming service, no longer satisfies the needs of the traveller. Net2room.com provides high- speed Internet access without the need for any rewiring to the guestrooms. Using Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) technology, net2room.com is able to offer broadband connectivity through existing telephone wires in the rooms. DSL technology allows data and voice to be carried simultaneously over an existing copper telephone line without disrupting the other. This means guests can talk on the telephone – even if the room has just one line –and surf the Internet at high speed simultaneously. DSL allows for broadband data transfer speeds up to 10 Megabits Per Second (Mbps); this is more than 170 times faster than a standard 56 Kbps dial-up connection.

New Revenue Streams

Net2room.com will offer several revenue streams for hotels and serviced residences without requiring any initial capital outlay. Guests who use the system will be billed for the extra service upon settling their accommodation bill and net2room.com will take a percentage of the service fee.

“We expect demand for this paid service to be high since these digital travellers will need to stay electronically connected,” said Mr Michael Mun, CEO and President of Aztech Systems Ltd.

Mr Lim Ming Yan, Chief Corporate and Investment Officer of Somerset Holdings, said: “This venture is in line with our overall E- strategy. We intend to use technology to enhance our existing core businesses and to maximize the potential of our extensive operations and marketing infrastructure in the region.

“We are always exploring ways to raise the benchmark on the standards of service in the industry. We believe these new services provided by net2room will soon become the defacto standard as the hospitality industry quickly moves into the wired world,” added Mr Lim.

Besides broadband Internet access to each installed PC (1Mbps using xDSL), the PC can also be used as an e-commerce portal. Goods and services can be displayed on a storefront and purchase transactions made under a secured payment gateway. Targeted advertising is another revenue source that the company is evaluating for long-term yields.

Varied Services, Speedy Set-up

The installed PCs will also serve as the platform for other services such as easy-to-use email retrieval, web-content management, PC games, MP3 music, faxes, as well as instant messaging services that alert the users when friends are online and immediately contactable through the supplied application.

Of particular interest to overseas visitors is the ability to make international telephone calls without incurring charges for overseas calls. This is made possible through the use of Voice-over-IP applications that allow users to place voice calls over the Internet. Because of the system’s high bandwidth, voice quality is preserved.

Net2room.com will provide the full spectrum of services, ranging from the initial installation of PCs, to service and maintenance, as well as 24x7 helpdesk support. Installation takes advantage of the existing phone lines in the guestrooms and requires no additional wiring or renovations to be performed. As a result, participating establishments will suffer no disruption of guest services or income when they sign up for the service.

“Because these are low-risk, high-value services, we hope to quickly achieve widespread adoption of net2room services islandwide,“ said Mr Mun. “We intend to capture 25 percent of the 35,000 rooms in 110 hotels* in Singapore alone, and we are also exploring opportunities in countries such as Hong Kong, Seoul and Taipei.”

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*Source: Tourism Statistics Series: Forecast on Hotel Room Supply and Demand [as of 30 June 1999]

About net2room.com Pte Ltd

net2.room.com is a pioneer in providing broadband Internet solutions to the hospitality industry in Asia. It is a joint-venture company set-up by Aztech Systems Limited, Somerset Holdings Limited, StartUps.Com Pte Ltd and AVSdotcom Pte Ltd.

About Somerset Holdings Limited

Somerset Holdings is a leading owner and manager of executive residences and retail properties in the Asia Pacific region.
The company is publicly listed in Singapore. Somerset Holdings owns or manages 3,200 executive residences and about 300,000 square metres of retail space in 22 cities in 11 countries in the Asia Pacific.
Somerset International, the management of arm of Somerset Holdings, specialises in the management of executive residences, shopping malls, serviced offices, hotels and resorts.
With over 15 years' international experience, Somerset International works with developers and property owners to maximise asset productivity and competitiveness, and enhance their return on investments.

About Aztech Systems Ltd

Established in 1986, Aztech is today a leading player in the multimedia industry, having earned its place among the leading sound card manufacturers and largest modem suppliers in the world. Aztech aims to be a world hub in the area of multimedia, communications and Internet through a combination of superior designs, systems engineering and quality manufacturing.
Aztech today invests heavily in the development of hardware and software. Aztech continues to expand its team of Research and Development engineers and invest in design automation tools and sophisticated test equipment.

About AVS Technologies Pte Ltd

AVS is a one-stop IT service provider with key competencies in systems integration, networking and Internet/E-Commerce solutions. Other services provided by AVS include network planning, design and implementation, disaster recovery services and Helpdesk services.

Since the company’s inception in 1980, AVS has established itself as a provider of premium IT products and services.

AVS today represents a wide range of computers and peripherals. With more than 40 technical staff in information technology, the company is able to provide total solutions to a wide spectrum of IT requirements. AVS Service Centre is the appointed service centre for a number of popular IT brands.

About StartUps.com Pte Ltd

StartUps.com Pte Ltd is a local internet solutions company providing accelerated entry to the dot com businesses in Singapore.

The company is backed by institutional share-holders like Temasek Polytechnic Investment Holdings – the investment arm of Temasek Polytechnic; Singapore One broadband solution provider’s One Net Pte Ltd; leading Asian technology tracking company - Technowledge Asia Pte Ltd; and Yeo Wong & Thian – a leading Internet/Technology legal practice.

 


 

Ida Lim, Vice President

Investor Relations & Corporate Communications

Hp: 9-628-8339

Tel: 65867-230

Fax: 62272-220


Tay Cheng Cheng, Assistant Manager

Tel: 65867-231

Pgr: 9-266-0127

Fax: 62272-220

 

Issued by: Somerset Holdings Limited