Singapore continues to maintain a strong positive outlook in the country’s telecommunications sector. The island state has built a competitive telecoms market over the past three decades, aided by its geographical disposition and its excellent infrastructure. On the back of its increasingly sophisticated infrastructure, Singapore consistently appears among the top economies in the various global rankings for ICT development and performance.

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 that has, in turn, generated a highly competitive market.

In its efforts to maintain Singapore’s status as an ICT market leader, the government launched its plan for a nationwide fibre-based broadband network known as the Next Generation Broadband Network (NGNBN). The roll out and deployment of this national network in line with the government’s strategy has effectively been completed and there is rapid take-up of fibre-based services.

Singapore has been 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. Smart Nation is Singapore’s vision to tap into the potential of technology to improve the lives of citizens, create greater opportunities for business, and build a more anticipatory government.

The mobile market in Singapore is characterised by its energy and innovation. A competitive mobile market in Singapore has been built up over time. Singapore Telecom (SingTel) was the only mobile operator in the country until 1997 M1 launched its mobile network in that year. Then StarHub became the third operator in 2000 with the launch of its network. A fourth operator MyRepublic is also vying for entry into the market. It expects to deploy a nationwide mobile service by the end of September 2018.

Singapore’s mobile market has displayed slow growth over the last few years due to a highly mature market with penetration now reaching 149% as significant proportion of subscribers now own more than one mobile device. Even as growth rates slowed, there has been considerable effort still going into value-added products and services, and most importantly into new generation technologies.

The ‘mix’ of mobile services is rapidly changing, with 2G having almost disappeared, 3G numbers are declining and Long Term Evolution (LTE) / 4G service offerings continue to expand rapidly.

In 2016 a price war has broken out in the Singapore mobile data market. It is the first time in four years that local mobile operators have engaged in such aggressive pricing strategies indicating the heightened market competition that is now evident in a highly mature market.

Operators have moved away from the customer acquisition phase to more of a customer satisfaction and retention phase as the market has matured. Higher penetration rates are possible as subscribers increasingly have multiple devices connected to the network for diverse applications that are geared to data services. However the market over the next five years to 2021 is unlikely to grow much further.

Singapore has earned the title of ‘the intelligent island’ after years of hard work, achieving high world rankings in most categories of technical advancement. The government’s vision for this began with its ‘Singapore One’ project, in what was the world’s first nationwide broadband network. This was carried through into the future with the progressive implementation of another government initiative, the ‘iN2015’ Master Plan.

Apart from the excellent infrastructure available to support broadband services, the administration and the operators have put a major effort into expanding these services and increasing the ease of access, one such initiative being the Next Generation National Infocomm Infrastructure and the related Next Generation National Broadband Network. By 2016 fibre-based services had become the focus of the providers.

By mid-2016 the number of broadband subscribers in Singapore had reached 12.1 million and that for a country of just over 5 million people. Of the total subscriber base around 10.65 million were using wireless broadband by that stage. The rest were shared between Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), cable modem platforms plus the rapidly expanding fibre-based services.
Slow growth is predicted over the next two years in a mature and saturated market. Both wireless broadband and optical fibre broadband will be continue to be the fastest growing broadband segments.

Data and analytics will play a critical role in Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative. One of the initiatives is the government’s data-as-a-service (DaaS) pilot that addresses the challenge of discovering datasets in the private sector through a federated approach.

Singtel announced plans to launch Singapore’s first full commercial voice-over-Wi-Fi (VoWiFi) service in August 2016, following successful HetNet trials carried out in conjunction with IDA.

For more information see – Singapore - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Digital Media - Statistics and Analyses