2011 Singapore - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband

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Last updated: 11 Apr 2012 Update History

Report Status: Archived

Report Pages: 92

Analyst: Peter Evans

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
  • Markets, Industry Overviews and Analysis
  • Regulatory Environment
  • Major Telecom Operators (Mobile, Fixed, Broadband)
  • Infrastructure, including NBN strategy
  • Mobile Voice and Data Markets
  • Internet, VoIP, IPTV
  • Broadband (DSL, cable, FttH, wireless)
  • Digital Media

Researcher:- Peter Evans
Current publication date:- April 2012 (17th Edition)

Executive Summary

Broadband prices fall as rollout of Singapore’s NGNBN continues

Note: A half yearly update has been completed on this report and includes new statistics to December 2011 supplemented by estimates where appropriate.

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. The nation is determined to maintain its status and in the process it continues to embark on new and innovative telecom and IT projects.

With strong leadership from its government and good support from its telecom service providers, Singapore is 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 100%’ of homes have fixed-line telephone connections, according to the telecom regulator. More than 20% of homes have two fixed line services.

Although incumbent Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) continues to play a major role in the local 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 offshore presence includes subsidiaries in India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

And through its alliance with Bharti Airtel in India in has further market presence in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Africa. By the start of 2012 the SingTel group had 434 million mobile subscribers across its many markets.

Singapore has continued to grow both its mobile subscriber base (152% penetration by December 2011) as well as its value-added data services. The launch of 3G services has been particularly insightful. There was an obvious period of uncertainty surrounding the introduction of 3G. After launch in 2005 the take up rate was initially slow. 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 2012, there were more than 5.8 million 3G subscribers in a country where the total mobile market was around 7.8 million. In other words 3G subscribers represented a compelling 74% of the total subscriber base as 3G rapidly became the ‘normal’ mobile service in the country.

In the meantime, the Singapore government has begun promoting what it calls the ‘infocomm’ sector with the launch of a 10-year Infocomm Master Plan, labelled the Intelligent Nation 2015 (iN2015). This was followed by the the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) announcing in 2008 that S$1 billion (US$725 million) had been allocated by the government to support the building and operating of a national optical fibre-based network as part of what was called the Next Generation National Infocomm Infrastructure (Next Gen NII); the strategy also included a wireless network. The government was seeking to licence an Operating Company (referred to as the OpCo) and a Network Company (referred to as the NetCo). The OpenNet consortium won the role of the NetCo and took responsibility for designing, building and operating the passive infrastructure of the Next Gen NII). StarHub’s Nucleus Connect won the OpCo contract and the right to build and operate the wholesale broadband network across Singapore.

The roll-out of the national broadband network seemed to be proceeding at a good pace through 2011. Nucleus Connect had started offering commercial services on the network in September 2010. Network coverage had reached the required 60% of the population by end-2010 and by halfway through 2011 was on track to provide 95% coverage by mid-2012. However, at the start of 2012 the IDA intervened in the building process following concerns at the slowing rate of rollout.

Key highlights

  • Singapore’s overall mobile telephone penetration passed the 150% mark in late 2011;
  • The country’s 3G market continues to boom: there were around 5.8 million 3G subscribers by May 2011; this meant that 74% of all mobile subscribers are 3G;
  • The regulator has set new standards for quality of 3G services provided by the operators.
  • Effectively 100% of Singapore’s households now have some form of high speed broadband Internet access;
  • The Singapore government’s large scale project to build an island-wide broadband network called the Next Generation National Infocomm Infrastructure (Next Gen NII) is proceeding;
  • While the IDA had initially reported good progress on the roll-out of this network, in early 2012 it intervened in the construction process upon concerns with the slowing pace.
  • The IDA maintains the network will deliver universal coverage by the 2013 target.
  • Against the trend observed in most other markets around the world, fixed-line telephone services in Singapore remain remarkably resilient with what the IDA describes as more than 100% of households connected to the fixed network.

Singapore: - key telecom parameters – 2011 - 2012



2012 (e)

Fixed-line services:



Total No. of subscribers

2.02 million


Annual growth (e)



Fixed-line penetration (population)



Fixed-line penetration (household)



Broadband Internet:1



Total No. of subscribers

9.2 million

10.3 million

Annual growth



Broadband penetration (population)



Broadband penetration (wired, household)



Mobile services:



Total No. of subscribers

7.8 million

8.1 million

Annual growth



Total 3G subscribers

5.8 million

6.2 million

3G as percentage of total mobile



Mobile penetration (population)



(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.

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