2013 Singapore - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband

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Last updated: 30 Oct 2013 Update History

Report Status: Archived

Report Pages: 99

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, FttX, wireless)
  • Digital Media

Researcher:- Peter Evans
Current publication date:- October 2013 (19th Edition)

Executive Summary

Singapore deal that could see SingTel gain control of OpenNet has market rivals ‘up in arms.’

Singapore has developed the status of a world leader in telecommunications through the building of a high quality and extremely progressive regulatory environment for the local telecommunications sector. This dynamic has, in turn, generated a highly competitive telecom market place in the island-state. The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), the nation’s telecoms regulator, reports that Singapore’s fixed-line household penetration rate around 100%, many Singaporeans having two fixed telephone services at home. At the same time, its booming mobile market has a highly penetrated that is continuing to grow in subscribers and sophistication. Singapore’s 3G market segment has been on a growth surge over recent years but that is now easing with the advent of 4G. In the meantime 3G had become the ‘normal’ mobile service in the country with around two-thirds of the subscriber base being 3G.

As Singapore’s mobile market continues its expansion, the numbers of broadband access and data services are increasing at an impressive rate. The Residential Wired Broadband Household Penetration Rate, for example, had reached around 104%.

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.

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 has been embarking on new and innovative telecom and IT projects.

Although incumbent Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) continues to play a major role in the local telecom sector, liberalisation has seen a significant number of new operators entering the market, helping to exploit the competitive situation. The arrival of strong competition in its own backyard saw SingTel 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 it has further market presence in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Africa. The SingTel group had around 500 million mobile subscribers across its many markets.

With the government pushing to move Singapore into the forefront of IT development, the IDA announced back 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. Despite some problems with the rate of roll out, the development of this national network has been proceeding.

NGNBN builder OpenNet reported on a plan to sell the company to CityNet, a subsidiary of SingTel. The deal required the approval of the regulator to proceed. In the meantime, rival companies in the market were reported to be unanimously opposing the plan and had requested the government to reject it on the grounds that it was anti-competitive. They claimed to be expressing the grave concerns within the industry about the proposed acquisition, suggesting that there was ‘the potential of discriminatory treatment and a lack of independence.’

Key highlights

  • Singapore’s overall mobile telephone penetration had passed the 150% mark and was close to 8 million subscribers by 2013;
  • The country’s 3G market continues to be the strongest component of the mobile sector with around two-thirds of all mobile subscribers being 3G;
  • By 2013 the arrival of 4G/LTE was having a big impact on the market, with rapid take up of service;
  • Effectively 100% of Singapore’s households now have some form of high speed broadband internet access;
  • The Next Generation National Infocomm Infrastructure (Next Gen NII), Singapore’s large scale project to build an island-wide broadband network, is well underway;
  • While the IDA had initially reported good progress on the roll-out of this network, in 2012 it intervened in the construction process amid growing concerns about slow progress;
  • By mid-2013 there was high demand in the market place for fibre-based broadband services;
  • The IDA continued to maintain that the network will deliver universal coverage on time;
  • In the second half of 2013 a deal was taking shape that could see OpenNet, the company building the NGNBN, being acquired by CityNet, a SingTel subsidiary;
  • Rival operators were vigorously opposing the deal, which needed the IDA’s approval to proceed;
  • 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 effectively all households are connected to the fixed network;
  • Not surprisingly, growth in the fixed network has flattened out. 

Singapore: - key telecom parameters – 2011 - 2013




2013 (e)

Fixed-line services:




Subscribers penetration2




Broadband internet:1




Wireless subscriber penetration2




Mobile services:




Subscriber penetration2




(Source: BuddeComm)

Note: 1includes both fixed and mobile broadband services; 2penetration as percentage of population

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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