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Singapore - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband


Attention: There is an updated edition available for this report.

This report provides a comprehensive overview of the trends and developments in telecommunications and digital media markets in Singapore. Subjects covered include:

  • Key statistics
  • Market and industry overviews
  • Regulatory environment
  • Major players (fixed and mobile)
  • Infrastructure
  • Mobile voice and data markets
  • Internet, VoIP, IPTV
  • Broadband (DSL, cable, FttH, wireless)
  • Convergence and digital media.


This report looks at Singapore, one of the outstanding telecommunications markets in Asia. At the same time as building its sophisticated telecoms infrastructure, Singapore has successfully promoted itself an IT hub and a place of excellence when it comes to all things to do with IT and telecommunications.  

With strong leadership from its government and good support from its telecom service providers, Singapore has continued to maintain its status as both a regional leader and a global player in telecommunications. The island-state certainly generates a positive outlook in its local telecom sector. The country has built a high quality and extremely progressive telecommunications regulatory regime that has, in turn, resulted in a richly competitive market. All restrictions on direct and indirect foreign ownership within the country’s telecom sector have been lifted. In such a progressive commercial environment, over 98% of homes have fixed-line telephone connections. Singapore was one of the first countries in the world to have a fully digital telephone network.

  Although incumbent SingTel continues to play a major role in the Singapore telecom sector, liberalisation has seen a host of new operators entering the market, helping to exploit the competitive situation. In the lead up to officially liberalising the market, the government issued five facilities-based and 29 service-based licences. Prompted by the arrival of strong competition in its own backyard, SingTel decided to expand offshore and in what turned out to be a successful strategy the company has established a considerable presence in regional markets, including 100% ownership of Optus, the second ranked mobile operator in Australia.

  Some years back Singapore’s mobile sector was being described as a mature market. This was clearly a premature call. The country has continued to grow both its mobile subscriber base (131% penetration by January 2009) as well as its value-added data services. The launch of 3G services has focused particular interest on Singapore’s telecom market. Following a period of what could only be described as hesitancy surrounding 3G, the take up of the service was initially slow after launch in 2005. Subsequently, however, there has been a strong upsurge in demand, no doubt helped by the wider availability of more affordable, high feature handsets. By early 2009, there were 2.5 million 3G subscribers in a country which had a total of 6.3 million mobile subscribers. This meant that 3G subscribers represented a striking 40% of the total mobile subscriber base.

  The government’s continuing vigorous support for the ICT sector saw the launch in 2006 of a 10-year Infocomm Master Plan, labelled the Intelligent Nation 2015 (iN2015). The sector regulator IDA announced in April 2008 that S$1 billion (US$725 million) had been allocated by government to support the building and operating of the proposed national broadband network. A comprehensive national optical fibre-based network was set to be part of the so-called Next Generation National Infocomm Infrastructure; the plan also includes a wireless network. According to IDA, the allocated funding was to be split between an operating company (referred to as the OpCo), receiving S$250 million, and a network company (referred to as the NetCo), which was to get S$750 million. NetCo was to lay the optical fibre cables that would form the basis of the network.

  Surprisingly, the Singapore market had initially moved slowly on the large-scale adoption of broadband access, despite being first in the world to deploy DSL commercially back in 1997. Following a major effort in expanding its broadband services, however, the country has now become a serious player with close to 100% of Internet households having broadband access by early 2008. At the same time Singapore’s Wireless@SG initiative has already put in place more than 5,000 public hotspots around the island. The country is now well positioned for the development and adoption of a full range of triple play and NGN services. It was evident from the level of intense activity that the iN2015 master plan was on track to be fully implemented.

  Key highlights:

  •          Singapore’s overall mobile telephone penetration is now well over the 100% mark (131% in January 2009) and still increasing.
  •          Singapore’s 3G market has taken off; there were around 2.5 million 3G subscribers in the early part of 2009; this already saw 40% of the total mobile subscriber base.
  •          More than 90% of Singapore households are estimated to have some form of high-speed broadband Internet access; this is expected to reach close to 100% by 2010.
  •          The government has initiated a huge project to build the Next Generation National Infocomm Infrastructure (Next Gen NII), an island-wide broadband network, at an estimated cost of US$1.2 billion.
  •          Importantly, the Next Gen NII project has been structured to ensure an ‘open system’ with access being available to all operators.
  •          In a complementary strategy the government has also launched its Wireless@SG project, aimed at covering most of the island with free wireless Internet access.
  •          Fixed-line telephone services remain remarkably resilient in Singapore with an estimated 98% of households connected to the fixed network; about 20% of the population have two fixed-line telephones at home.  
Key telecom parameters in Singapore - 2008 - 2009
Category 2008 2009 (e)
Fixed-line services:
  •          Total subscribers 1.86 million 1.90
  •          Annual growth (e) 0% 0%
  •          Fixed-line penetration (population) 38% 38%
  •          Fixed-line penetration (household) 98% 98% Broadband Internet:1    
  •          Total subscribers 4.7 million 5.9 million
  •          Annual growth 44% 26%
  •          Broadband penetration (population) 102% 124%
  •          Broadband penetration (household) 100% 100% Mobile services:    
  •          Total subscribers 6.3 million 6.6 million
  •          Annual growth 13% 5%
  •          Total 3G subscribers 2.5 million 3.0 million
  •          3G as percentage of total mobile 40% 45%
  •          Mobile penetration (population) 131% 136%
(Source: BuddeComm) Note: 1In 2007 the IDA changed its methodology to include all forms of wireless broadband resulting in a significant jump in the total broadband subscriber base.  

  Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.

1. Key Statistics
2. Telecommunications Market
2.1 Overview of Singapore’s telecom market
2.2 Singapore and the global financial crisis - March 2009
2.3 Market liberalisation
2.3.1 Licence awards
2.4 Intelligent Nation 2015 (iN2015)
3. Regulatory Environment
3.1 Regulatory authorities
3.1.1 Telecommunications Authority of Singapore (TAS)
3.1.2 Infocomm Development Authority (IDA)
3.2 Regulatory developments
3.2.1 Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
3.2.2 Liberalisation of licensing framework
3.2.3 Ending SingTel’s monopoly
3.2.4 Competition
3.2.5 Numbering regulations
3.2.6 Local Leased Circuit (LLC)
3.2.7 Other regulatory developments
4. Fixed Network Operators in Singapore
4.1 Singapore Telecom (SingTel)
4.2 StarHub Pte Ltd
4.3 Other players
4.3.1 Pacific Internet Ltd
4.3.2 Singapore Cable Vision (SCV)
4.3.3 ST Telemedia
4.3.4 Virgin Mobile
5. Telecommunications Infrastructure
5.1 National telecom network
5.1.1 Overview
5.1.2 StarHub’s network
5.1.3 The MobileOne Network
5.1.4 Fixed-mobile convergence (FMC)
5.1.5 Triple play services
5.1.6 Next Generation National Infocomm Infrastructure (Next Gen NII)
5.2 International infrastructure
5.2.1 Submarine cable networks
5.2.2 Terrestrial cable networks
5.2.3 Satellite networks
5.3 Infrastructure developments
5.3.1 International services
5.3.2 Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
5.3.3 IP networks
5.3.4 IP-Virtual Private Networks (IP-VPN)
6. Internet market
6.1 Overview
6.2 Singapore Network Information Centre (SGNIC)
6.3 Regulatory environment
6.4 International Internet infrastructure
6.5 Internet data centres
6.6 Internet security
6.7 International Internet exchange
6.8 ISP market
6.8.1 Overview of selected ISPs
6.9 Content and e-Services
6.9.1 E-commerce
6.9.2 Web service development
6.9.3 E-crime
7. Broadband Market
7.1 Market overview
7.2 Broadband Multimedia Network - Singapore One
7.2.1 Singapore One project overview
7.2.2 Singapore One project development
7.3 Next Gen NII
7.3.1 Planning phase
7.3.2 Proposal phase
7.3.3 Network Company (NetCo)
7.3.4 Operating Company (OpCo)
7.4 Broadband service providers
7.5 Cable modems
7.6 Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)
7.7 Powerline broadband
7.8 Internet via satellite
7.9 IP-Virtual Private Network (IP-VPN)
7.10 Fibre-to-the-Home (FttH)
7.11 Wireless broadband
7.11.1 Allocation of wireless broadband spectrum
7.11.2 Local Multipoint Distribution Service (LMDS)
7.11.3 WiFi
7.11.4 The Wireless@SG initiative
7.11.5 Ultra-Wideband (UWB)
7.11.6 Wired with Wireless Program
8. Convergence
8.1 Overview of media convergence
8.2 Regulatory environment
8.2.1 Overview
8.3 Digital television
8.3.1 Digital TV (DTV)
8.3.2 Cable and pay TV
8.3.3 Satellite TV
8.3.4 Interactive TV (iTV)
8.3.5 Free-to-Air (FTA) TV
8.4 Internet Protocol TV (IPTV)
8.4.1 SingNet’s mio TV
8.4.2 StarHub
9. Mobile Communications
9.1 Overview of Singapore’s mobile market
9.1.1 Market statistics
9.1.2 Average Revenue per User (ARPU)
9.2 Regulatory issues
9.2.1 Tariffs
9.2.2 Mobile-Party-Pays (MPP)
9.2.3 Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
9.2.4 Registration of prepaid services
9.2.5 Additional spectrum auction
9.3 Mobile technologies
9.3.1 GSM
9.3.2 CDMA
9.3.3 Wired with Wireless Program
9.3.4 Third Generation (3G) mobile
9.4 Major mobile operators
9.4.1 SingTel Mobile
9.4.2 MobileOne
9.4.3 StarHub
9.5 Mobile voice services
9.5.1 Prepaid
9.5.2 International roaming
9.5.3 Satellite mobile
9.6 Mobile data services
9.6.1 Short Messaging Service (SMS)
9.6.2 Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)
9.6.3 Wireless Application Protocol (WAP)
9.6.4 General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)
9.6.5 i-mode
9.6.6 Payment systems
9.6.7 Location-based services (LBS)
9.6.8 Mobile broadband
9.6.9 Other developments
9.7 Mobile content and applications
9.7.1 Development activity
9.7.2 Mobile TV
10. Glossary of Abbreviations
Table 1 - Country statistics Singapore - 2008
Table 2 - Telephone network statistics - 2008
Table 3 - Internet user statistics - 2008
Table 4 - Broadband statistics - January 2009
Table 5 - Mobile statistics - January 2009
Table 6 - National telecommunications authorities
Table 7 - Fixed-line versus mobile - subscribers and penetration rates - 1998 - 2008
Table 8 - Fixed lines in service and penetration rate - 1998 - 2008
Table 9 - Overview of Internet market - January 2009
Table 10 - Internet users - 1996 - 2008
Table 11 - Internet subscribers - 1997 - 2008
Table 12 - Registered domain names - 2008
Table 13 - Broadband subscribers - 1999 - 2009
Table 14 - Overview of broadband/household subscribers - January 2009
Table 15 - Broadband subscribers by sector - January 2009
Table 16 - Broadband market share by access type - 2008
Table 17 - Broadband subscribers, annual change & market share by major provider - 2008
Table 18 - StarHub broadband subscribers - 2003 - 2009
Table 19 - Cable modem subscribers - 2000 - 2009
Table 20 - DSL subscribers - 2000 - 2009
Table 21 - Key broadcasting statistics - 2008
Table 22 - Broadcasting homes subscribers and sector revenue - 1996 - 2008
Table 23 - Cable TV subscribers - 2002 - 2008
Table 24 - SCV/StarHub cable TV subscribers - 1996 - 2008
Table 25 - StarHub cable TV ARPU - 2003 - 2008
Table 26 - SingNet’s mio TV subscribers - 2007 - 2009
Table 27 - Fixed-line versus mobile subscriptions and teledensity - 2008
Table 28 - Mobile market statistics - January 2009
Table 29 - Mobile subscribers - 1996 - 2009
Table 30 - Mobile services revenue - 1993 - 2008
Table 31 - Singapore’s mobile services ARPU - 2002 - 2008
Table 32 - MobileOne ARPU for mobile services (postpaid & prepaid) - 2002 - 2008
Table 33 - StarHub ARPU for mobile services (postpaid & prepaid) - 2003 - 2008
Table 34 - SingTel ARPU for mobile services (postpaid & prepaid) - 2003 - 2008
Table 35 - 3G mobile subscribers - 2005 - 2009
Table 36 - 3G mobile subscribers by operator - June 2008
Table 37 - Mobile operators, subscribers and annual change - June 2008
Table 38 - Mobile operators by share of total mobile market - June 2008
Table 39 - Mobile operators by share of 3G mobile market - June 2008
Table 40 - SingTel mobile subscribers - 1998 - 2008
Table 41 - MobileOne subscribers - 1998 - 2008
Table 42 - StarHub mobile subscribers - 2000 - 2008
Table 43 - 2G prepaid subscribers - 1999 - 2009
Table 44 - Total SMS messages per month - 2004 - 2008
Exhibit 1 - A snapshot of the Intelligent Nation 2015 (iN2015) project
Exhibit 2 - Key regulatory and liberalisation moves - 1997 - 2009
Exhibit 3 - SingTel’s regional subsidiaries and shareholdings - 2009
Exhibit 4 - International submarine cable systems with landing points in Singapore - 2009
Exhibit 5 - Singapore: top global ranking in e-government
Exhibit 6 - Licensed satellite broadcasters
Exhibit 7 - Third generation licensees, spectrum and vendors

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