2007 Asia - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband in Brunei Darussalam and Singapore

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Last updated: 31 Jul 2007 Update History

Report Status: Archived

Report Pages: 134

Analyst: Stephen McNamara

Publication Overview

This report provides a comprehensive overview of the trends and developments in telecommunications and digital media markets in Brunei Darussalam and 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

Executive Summary


With strong leadership from the government and good support from its telecom service providers, Singapore continues to maintain its status as a world leader in telecommunications and certainly evokes a positive outlook for its local telecommunications sector. The country has built a high quality and extremely progressive telecommunications regulatory regime that has, in turn, generated 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 market, over 98% of homes have fixed-line telephone connections and about 20% of the population have two telephones at home. Singapore was one of the first countries in the world to have a fully digital telephone network. For more information, see chapter 2.5, page 34.

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 exploit the competitive situation. In fact, in the lead up to liberalisation, the government had issued five facilities-based and 29 service-based licences. With strong competition in its domestic market, SingTel took the decision to expand offshore and has successfully established a considerable presence in regional markets, including the ownership of Optus, the second ranked mobile operator in Australia.

Singapore’s mobile sector, despite being considered a mature market, has continued to remain centre stage. Much interest has been on Singapore’s preparation for, and launch of, 3G services. Following a period of hesitancy in the market about the potential of next generation mobile services, the service got off to a slow start. But there was subsequently a strong upsurge in demand, helped by the wider availability of more affordable, high feature handsets. By end-2006, there were 685,000 3G subscribers signed up. Then, in the first quarter of 2007, the 3G subscriber base expanded by a huge 50% to reach just over one million. There was no doubt that 3G was being embraced by the Singaporeans. For more information, see chapter, page 94.

Singapore was the first country in the world to deploy DSL commercially when SingTel launched its service way back in November 1997. It came as some surprise, therefore, when Singapore initially moved slowly on the large-scale adoption of broadband Internet access. Following a major effort to expand its broadband services, however, the country has become a serious player, with more than 65% of Internet households having broadband access by early 2007. It is well positioned for the development and adoption of a full range of triple play and Next Generation (NGN) services. For more information, see chapter, page 67.

The Singapore government continues to vigorously support the country’s ICT sector. In 2006, it launched a 10-year Infocomm Master Plan, labelled the Intelligent Nation 2015 (iN2015). The plan recognised the importance of what the government calls ‘infocomm’ as a ‘strategic enabler for social and economic growth’ in the island state. Since launch, the government has been aggressively supporting this strategy. In June 2007, the Minister for Information and Communications reported that a number of programs and initiatives had been rolled out collectively by the government and industry in order to implement the iN2015 Master Plan. For more information, see chapter 2.2.3, page 18.

In several global rankings, Singapore has emerged among the top economies. This included Accenture’s e-government survey, which placed Singapore 1st among 22 countries, ahead of Canada and the US. The infocomm sector in Singapore was witnessing an all-time high in revenue growth. Total revenue for the sector hit S$45 billion in 2006, representing a 20% increase on 2005. Out of this total revenue, export accounted for around S$29 billion.


Brunei, as small wealthy nation in South East Asia, made early moves to ensure that it was delivering up to date telecommunications services to its population. The target of 100% digitalisation was achieved in 1995. Telecommunications throughout Brunei are of a high standard and the country ranks well in Asia in terms of penetration and infrastructure. Brunei’s mobile penetration, which stood at a reasonably healthy 32% by end-2001, continued to grow strongly and by early 2007 had hit 109%.

With more than a little encouragement from the government, it is not surprising then that the citizens of Brunei are strong consumers of telecommunications services. Despite this, if the country is to continue to maintain the pace required to be globally competitive, it must further restructure and generally liberalise the local telecom industry. A new regulatory body, the Authority for Info-Communication Technology Industry (AiTi) was established and has been operational since January 2003. The local market continues to be dominated by Jabatan Telekom Brunei (JTB), the incumbent telco that is still a division within the Ministry of Communications. In March 2006, the Department of Economic Planning and Development (DEPD) announced that the corporatisation of JTB had been approved. A step in the right direction; however, much remains to be done in the area of sector reform.

Key highlights

  • Singapore’s overall mobile telephone penetration is now well over the 100% mark and still increasing;
  • After what was looking like a tentative start following launch in 2005, Singapore’s 3G market has taken off and was growing strongly coming into 2007;
  • The number of 3G subscribers in Singapore passed one million in March 2007, comprising almost a quarter of the total mobile subscriber base;
  • More than 65% of Singapore’s households 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, which is estimated to cost US$1.2 billion;
  • At the same time, the government has announced an ambitious plan called [email protected], aimed at covering most of Singapore island with free wireless Internet access by the end of 2007;
  • Fixed-line telephone services remain remarkably resilient in Singapore with over 99% of households connected to the fixed network;
  • Brunei has a booming mobile market with penetration reaching almost 110% in early 2007.

Singapore - Key telecom parameters - March 2007

Category Subscribers
Fixed-line services:
• Total No. of subscribers 1,853,500
• Annual growth 0%
• Fixed-line penetration (population) 41.3
• Fixed-line penetration (household) 99%
Broadband Internet:
• Total No. of subscribers 795,900
• Annual growth (2006) 20%
• Broadband penetration (population) 18%
• Broadband penetration (household) 65%
Mobile services:
• Total No. of subscribers 4,778,600
• Annual growth 9%
• Total 3G subscribers 1,081,400
• 3G as percentage of total mobile 23%
• Mobile penetration (population) 107%
(Source: BuddeComm)

Key country indicators - Singapore versus Brunei - 2006

Indicator Singapore Brunei
Population 4.4 million 0.38 million
GDP at current prices (e) US$132 billion US$11.4 billion
GDP per capita (e) US$29,900 US$30,300
GDP real growth rate (e) 8% 4%
Mobile penetration 109% 109%
(Source: BuddeComm)

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

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