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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)
  • Digital Media Researcher


This report looks at one of the outstanding telecommunications markets in Asia - Singapore. 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. It is determined to maintain its status.

With strong leadership from its government and good support from its telecom service providers, Singapore has continued to be both a regional leader and a global player in telecommunications. The island-state certainly generates a positive outlook in its local telecommunications sector. The country has built what is widely seen as 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 97% of homes have fixed-line telephone connections. Singapore was also one of the first countries in the world to have a fully digital telephone network.

Although incumbent Singapore Telecommunications (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 eventually turned out to be a successful strategy, the company has been able to establish a considerable presence in regional markets, including 100% ownership of Optus, the second ranked mobile operator in Australia. Its other subsidiaries are in India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Pakistan and Bangladesh. By early 2010 the SingTel group had around 300 million mobile subscribers in its operations across the region.

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 (143% penetration by January 2010) as well as its value-added data services. The launch of 3G services has focused particular interest on Singapore’s telecom market. There was a period of what could only be described as hesitancy surrounding 3G and the take up of the service was initially slow after its launch in 2005. Subsequently, however, there has been a strong upsurge in demand. No doubt this has been helped by the wider availability of more affordable, high feature handsets. By early 2010, there were more than 3.2 million 3G subscribers in a country where the total mobile market was 6.9 million. This meant that 3G subscribers represented a compelling 47% of the total subscriber base as 3G rapidly approached becoming the ‘normal’ mobile service in the country.

The Singapore 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). Then the country’s sector regulator, the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), announced in early 2008 that S$1 billion (US$725 million) had been allocated by the government to support the building and operating of the proposed national broadband network. A comprehensive national optical fibre-based network was to be part of what was called the Next Generation National Infocomm Infrastructure (Next Gen NII); the strategy also included a wireless network. The government allocated funding 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.

The OpenNet consortium was declared in late 2008 as the winning bidder in the tender to be the NetCo and take responsibility for designing, building and operating the passive infrastructure of the network, making use of existing ducts and other underlying infrastructure. Then in April 2009 StarHub’s Nucleus Connect won the OpCo contract and the right to build and operate the wholesale broadband network across Singapore. By March 2010 the IDA was reporting that the roll-out was on track and that Nucleus would commence offering commercial services by June 2010, with coverage reaching 60% of the population by end-2010 and providing universal coverage by 2013.

Surprisingly, the Singapore market had initially moved slowly on the large-scale adoption of broadband access. This was despite the country being the first in the world to deploy DSL commercially back in 1997. Following a major effort in expanding its broadband services, however, Singapore has now become a serious player with effectively 100% of Internet households having broadband access. Apart from the high household penetration, public access its especially good; Singapore’s Wireless@SG initiative has put in place more than 5,000 public hotspots around the island. The country has positioned itself well for the development and adoption of Next Generation (NGN) services. It was evident from the level of intense activity that the iN2015 master plan was on track to be fully implemented.

Market highlights:Singapore’s overall mobile telephone penetration is now well over the 100% mark (138% in January 2010) and continuing to increase;The country’s 3G market is booming; there were around 3.2 million 3G subscribers at the start of 2009; this meant 47% of all mobile subscribers were 3G subscribers;Effectively 100% of Singapore’s households now have some form of high speed broadband Internet access;The Singapore government has initiated a huge project to build the Next Generation National Infocomm Infrastructure (Next Gen NII), an island-wide broadband network;Importantly, the Next Gen NII project has been structured to ensure an ‘open system’ with access being available to all operators;The IDA reported in March 2010 that the roll-out of Next Gen NII was running to schedule, therefore offering the first of the commercial services by June 2010, with a roll-out to 60% of the population by end-2010 and universal coverage by 2013.In a complementary strategy the government has also launched its Wireless@SG project, aimed at covering most of Singapore island with free wireless Internet access;Fixed-line telephone services remain remarkably resilient in Singapore with an estimated 96% of households connected to the fixed network; about 20% of the population have two fixed-line telephones at home.Singapore: - key telecom parameters - 2009 - 2010Category 2009 2010 (e)

Fixed-line services:    
Total number of subscribers1.90 million 1.96 million
Annual growth (e)2% 3%
Fixed-line penetration (population)38% 39%
Fixed-line penetration (household)96% 96%
Broadband Internet:1    
Total number of subscribers5.8 million 7.0 million
Annual growth23% 21%
Broadband penetration (population)124% 145%
Broadband penetration (household)100% 100%
Mobile services:    
Total number of subscribers6.85 million 7.3 million
Annual growth9% 7%
Total 3G subscribers3.16 million 4.0 million
3G as percentage of total mobile47% 55%
Mobile penetration (population)138% 147%
(Source: BuddeComm) Note: 1In 2007 the IDA changed its methodology to include not just fixed broadband services but all forms of wireless broadband resulting in a significantly larger 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 Intelligent Nation 2015 (iN2015)
2.3 Next Generation National Infocomm Infrastructure (Next Gen NII)
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 Fine-tuning of access regulations
3.2.3 Service contracts
4. Fixed network operators
4.1 Singapore Telecom (SingTel)
4.1.1 Overview
4.1.2 Corporate structure and subsidiaries
4.1.3 Operational statistics
4.1.4 Business developments
4.2 StarHub Pte Ltd
4.2.1 Overview
4.2.2 StarHub/Singapore Cable Vision (SCV) merger
4.2.3 IPO
4.2.4 NGNBN
4.2.5 3G femtocell service
4.2.6 Developments
4.3 Other players
4.3.1 PacNet
5. Telecommunications Infrastructure
5.1 National telecom network overview
5.2 Fixed-mobile convergence (FMC)
5.3 Triple-play services
5.4 Next Generation National Infocomm Infrastructure (Next Gen NII)
5.4.1 Network Company (NetCo)
5.4.2 Operating Company (OpCo)
5.5 International infrastructure
5.5.1 Submarine cable networks
5.5.2 Terrestrial cable networks
5.5.3 Satellite networks
5.6 Infrastructure developments
5.6.1 International services
5.7 Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
5.7.1 StarHub
5.7.2 SingTel
5.7.3 MediaRing Ltd
5.7.4 Other operators
5.8 IP networks
5.8.1 SingTel
5.8.2 StarHub
5.8.3 The MobileOne Network
5.8.4 Infonet
5.8.5 Alcatel-Lucent
5.8.6 Other operators
6. Broadband Market
6.1 Market overview
6.1.1 Broadband and Internet statistics
6.1.2 Role of the Internet in Singapore
6.2 Next Generation National Infocomm Infrastructure (Next Gen NII)
6.2.1 Planning phase
6.2.2 Proposal phase
6.2.3 Network Company (NetCo)
6.2.4 Operating Company (OpCo)
6.2.5 Status of development - March 2010
6.2.6 Analysis - Singapore’s national broadband network - 2009
6.3 Broadband service providers
6.4 Cable modems
6.5 Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)
6.6 Powerline broadband
6.7 Fibre-to-the-Home (FttH)
6.8 Wireless broadband
6.8.1 The Wireless@SG initiative
7. Broadcasting
7.1 Overview
7.2 Regulatory environment
7.2.1 Singapore Broadcasting Authority (SBA)
7.2.2 Media Development Authority (MDA)
7.2.3 Regulatory developments
7.2.4 Convergence
7.3 Digital television
7.3.1 Digital TV (DTV)
7.3.2 Cable and pay TV
7.3.3 Satellite TV
7.3.4 Interactive TV (iTV)
7.3.5 Free-to-Air (FTA) TV
7.4 Internet Protocol TV (IPTV)
7.4.1 SingNet’s mio TV
7.4.2 StarHub
8. Mobile Communications
8.1 Overview of Singapore’s mobile market
8.1.1 Market statistics
8.1.2 Average Revenue per User (ARPU)
8.2 Mobile Networks
8.2.1 GSM
8.2.2 3G mobile
8.2.3 High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA)
8.2.4 Long-term evolution (LTE)
8.3 Mobile voice services
8.3.1 Prepaid
8.3.2 International roaming
8.3.3 Satellite mobile
8.4 Mobile data services
8.4.1 Short Messaging Service (SMS)
8.4.2 Payment systems
8.4.3 Smartphones
8.5 Mobile content and applications
8.5.1 Development activity
8.5.2 Developments in 2009
8.5.3 Self-regulation of content
8.5.4 Mobile TV
9. Major mobile operators
9.1 SingTel Mobile
9.1.1 Overview
9.1.2 Operating statistics
9.1.3 Business strategy - 3G
9.1.4 Development of products and services - 2009/2010
9.2 MobileOne
9.2.1 Overview
9.2.2 Operating statistics
9.2.3 Business strategies
9.2.4 Network development
9.2.5 Development of products and services - 2009/2010
9.3 StarHub
9.3.1 Overview
9.3.2 Operating statistics
9.3.3 Business strategies
9.3.4 Network developments
9.3.5 Development of products and services
10. Glossary of Abbreviations
List of Tables and Exhibits
Table 1 - Country statistics Singapore - 2009
Table 2 - Telephone network statistics - 2009
Table 3 - Internet user statistics - 2009
Table 4 - Broadband statistics - January 2010
Table 5 - Mobile statistics - January 2010
Table 6 - National telecommunications authorities
Table 7 - Fixed-line versus mobile growth - subscribers and penetration - 1998 - 2009
Table 8 - SingTel - Singapore market - key operational statistics - 2009
Table 9 - SingTel’s regional mobile subscribers - 2007 - 2009
Table 10 - SingTel’s mobile subscribers by regional markets - 2009
Table 11 - StarHub - key operational statistics - 2009
Table 12 - StarHub - revenue by market segments - 2009
Table 13 - Fixed lines in service and penetration - 1998 - 2011
Table 14 - Overview of fixed-line subscribers - 2009
Table 15 - Broadband subscribers - 1999 - 2010
Table 16 - Overview of broadband/household subscribers - January 2010
Table 17 - Broadband subscribers by sector - January 2010
Table 18 - Broadband market share - by access type - January 2010
Table 19 - Overview of Internet market - January 2010
Table 20 - Internet users - 1996 - 2011
Table 21 - Internet subscribers - 1997 - 2009
Table 22 - Registered domain names - May 2009
Table 23 - Fixed broadband subscribers and market share by major provider - 2009
Table 24 - SingTel’s fixed broadband subscribers - 2005 - 2009
Table 25 - StarHub’s fixed broadband subscribers - 2003 - 2009
Table 26 - Cable modem subscribers - 2000 - 2010
Table 27 - DSL subscribers - 2000 - 2010
Table 28 - Key broadcasting statistics - 2009
Table 29 - Broadcasting - homes, subscribers and sector revenue - 1996 - 2009
Table 30 - Cable TV subscribers - 2002 - 2009
Table 31 - StarHub Cable TV subscribers - 1996 - 2010
Table 32 - StarHub cable TV ARPU - 2003 - 2009
Table 33 - SingTel’s mio TV subscribers - 2007 - 2009
Table 34 - Mobile market statistics - January 2010
Table 35 - Mobile subscribers - 1996 - 2011
Table 36 - Mobile services revenue - 1993 - 2009
Table 37 - Fixed-line versus mobile subscriptions and teledensity - 2009
Table 38 - Overall mobile services ARPU - 2002 - 2009
Table 39 - MobileOne - ARPU for mobile services - postpaid and prepaid - 2002 - 2009
Table 40 - StarHub - ARPU for mobile services - postpaid and prepaid - 2003 - 2009
Table 41 - SingTel - ARPU for mobile services - postpaid and prepaid - 2003 - 2009
Table 42 - 3G mobile subscribers - 2005 - 2011
Table 43 - 3G mobile subscribers by operator - 2009
Table 44 - Prepaid subscribers - 1999 - 2010
Table 45 - Prepaid vs postpaid - share of 2G market - 2007 - 2010
Table 46 - Total SMS messages per month - 2004 - 2009
Table 47 - Singapore - mobile operators, subscribers and annual change - 2009
Table 48 - Singapore - mobile operators by share of total mobile market - 2009
Table 49 - Singapore - mobile operators by share of 3G mobile market - 2009
Table 50 - SingTel mobile subscribers - 1998 - 2009
Table 51 - SingTel 3G mobile subscribers - 2006 - 2009
Table 52 - SingTel Mobile - key operational statistics - 2009
Table 53 - SingTel Mobile - ARPU - 2009
Table 54 - MobileOne subscribers - 1998 - 2009
Table 55 - MobileOne 3G subscribers - 2006 - 2009
Table 56 - Mobile One - operating revenue and capital expenditure - 2008 - 2009
Table 57 - Mobile One - prepaid/postpaid subscribers and ARPU - 2009
Table 58 - StarHub mobile subscribers - 2000 - 2009
Table 59 - StarHub 3G mobile subscribers - 2006 - 2009
Table 60 - StarHub - operating revenue and capital expenditure - 2008 - 2009
Table 61 - StarHub - prepaid/postpaid subscribers and ARPU - 2009
Exhibit 1 - A snapshot of the Intelligent Nation 2015 (iN2015) project
Exhibit 2 - Key regulatory and liberalisation developments - 1997 - 2010
Exhibit 3 - Major shareholders in SingTel - May 2009
Exhibit 4 - SingTel’s regional subsidiaries and shareholdings - 2009
Exhibit 5 - Major shareholders in StarHub - February 2009
Exhibit 6 - International submarine cable systems with landing points in Singapore - 2009
Exhibit 7 - Structure of National Broadband Network
Exhibit 8 - Licensed satellite broadcasters
Exhibit 9 - Third generation licensees, spectrum and vendors
Exhibit 10 - SMS and advertising
Exhibit 11 - Major shareholders in Mobile One - October 2009
Exhibit 12 - Major shareholders in StarHub - February 2009

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