Singapore - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband

December 13, 2017


New report highlights how Singapore enthusiastically embraces 4G/LTE and beyond.

Through its building of a high quality and extremely progressive regulatory environment for the local telecommunications sector, Singapore has developed the status of a world leader in telecommunications. 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 with Singapore's fixed-line household penetration rate 99%, 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 by 2014 it had already moved into decline with the advent of 4G. By July 2015 there were already 3.7 million 4G subscribers, this being a remarkable 68% penetration (population).

As Singapore's mobile market continues its expansion, the numbers of fixed broadband access and data services are increasing at an impressive rate. The Residential Wired Broadband Household Penetration Rate, for example, had reached around 107% by mid-2015.

With strong leadership from the government and good support from its telecom service providers, Singapore was 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. Typical of this emphasis on taking the lead, in 2014 SingTel and Huawei agreed to collaborate on 5G research and trials. In 2015 Singapore was busy working to shape itself into what it says will be the world's first 'Smart Nation' where data and analytics play a critical role in its society and economy.

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 of different shapes and sizes 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 555 million mobile subscribers across its many markets by March 2015, the subscriber numbers having grown by 8% in the previous 12 months.

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 and by 2015 the rate of take up of fibre-based services was rapid indeed. In the 12 months to August 2014 fibre-based subscriptions had increased by around 100%. By mid-2015 the fibre market was still growing at 30% per annum and FttX already made up some 57% of all fixed broadband subscribers.

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