2009 Singapore - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband

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Last updated: 15 Apr 2009 Update History

Report Status: Archived

Report Pages: 178

Analyst: Stephen McNamara

Publication Overview

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.


Researcher:- Peter Evans

Current publication date:- April 2009 (15th Edition)

Next publication date:- April 2010

Executive Summary

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 [email protected] 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 [email protected] 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



2009 (e)

Fixed-line services:



·         Total subscribers

1.86 million


·         Annual growth (e)



·         Fixed-line penetration (population)



·         Fixed-line penetration (household)



Broadband Internet:1



·         Total subscribers

4.7 million

5.9 million

·         Annual growth



·         Broadband penetration (population)



·         Broadband penetration (household)



Mobile services:



·         Total subscribers

6.3 million

6.6 million

·         Annual growth



·         Total 3G subscribers

2.5 million

3.0 million

·         3G as percentage of total mobile



·         Mobile penetration (population)



(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.

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