Telecommunications in Singapore

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Satellite dishes of Singtel, along Bukit Timah Expressway.

The telecommunication infrastructure of Singapore spans the entire city-state. Its development level is high, with close accessibility to the infrastructure from nearly all inhabited parts of the island and for all of the population, with exceptions. Today, the country is considered an international telecommunications hub, an achievement that was driven by Singapore's view that high-quality telecommunications is one of the critical factors that support its economic growth.[1]


After reform initiatives, the Singaporean telecommunication industry became streamlined and largely directed by the government, which viewed such policy as critical in shaping societal preferences and in directing the state's economy.[2] Being able to provide adequate telecommunications services is also critical when approached from the perspective that Singapore's legitimacy as a state rests on its capability to deliver a high standard of living to its citizens. Hence, beginning in the 1970s, the state pursued a three-phase strategy oriented towards developing world-class telecommunications infrastructure capable of high-quality telecommunications services.[1]

The first phase involved the expansion of infrastructure to meet business and societal needs (e.g. service enhancement, reduction of waiting lists for telephone connections). The second phase involved the integration of telecommunications to the over-all state strategy, particularly in the area of services for banking, financial services, and tourism with the goal of tapping telecommunications in ensuring the competitive advantage for Singapore.[2] The National Computer Board was formed during this period for the purpose of developing and adopting IT applications. In 1986, this agency issued Singapore's comprehensive National Information Technology Plan (NITP).[3] By the late 1980s, the third phase commenced and it focused on bolstering Singapore's international role as well as the IT 2000, which was an ambitious plan to encourage new multimedia services, which is articulated in the promotion of Singapore as "an intelligent island".[2]

The government's role in the telecommunication industry is best demonstrated in the case of Singtel, which the state controls through its investment company Temasek Holdings Private Limited. Singtel does not only roll out affordable but high-quality telecommunication services to the city's residents but it also pursues initiatives that will attract overseas companies to invest in the country.[3]

Radio and television stations are all government-owned entities. All six television channels are owned by MediaCorp; its only other competitor, SPH Mediaworks closed its television channel on 1 January 2005. Due to the proximity of Singapore to Malaysia and Indonesia, almost all radios and television sets in Singapore can pick up broadcast signals from both countries. Private ownership of satellite dishes is banned, but most households have access to the StarHub TV and the Singtel IPTV TV(mio TV) network.

All radio stations are operated either by MediaCorp, the SAFRA National Service Association (SAFRA) or SPH UnionWorks.

As of 1998, there were almost 55 million phone lines in Singapore, close to 47 million of which also served other telecommunication devices like computers and facsimile machines. Underwater telephone cables have been laid that lead to Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia.

As of Jan 2018, there are four cellular phone operators in Singapore serving more than 6.4 million cellular phones. As for internet facilities, as of 2009, there are four major internet service providers (ISPs) in Singapore. By February 2009, there were more than 4.8 million broadband users in Singapore. However, due to the small market and possible market collusion, there have been rising concerns that various ISPs' telecommunication infrastructures being highly under-utilised. In July 2015, Liberty Wireless signed an agreement with M1 Limited that allows it to tap on M1's mobile network. This will enable Liberty Wireless to provide voice, messaging and data services to customers; becoming the first Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) in Singapore to offer a full service mobile network experience.


Telephones – fixed line:[4]

  • Total Fixed Line Subscriptions: 1,921,200 (June 2019)
  • Fixed Line Population Penetration: 33.7% (June 2019)

Telephones – mobile market:[5]

Telephone system:

  • Domestic: NA
  • International: Submarine cables to several countries and territories including Malaysia (Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia), Indonesia, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and India; satellite earth stations – 2 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean and 1 Pacific Ocean), and 1 Inmarsat (Pacific Ocean region)

IDD Country Code: +65


Radio broadcast stations (as of March 2006): AM 0, FM 19, shortwave 5 (Source:Asiawaves.Net )

Radios: 2.55 million (1997)


Television broadcast stations (as of March 2020):



Singapore has a large number of computer users and most households have computers and Internet access. A survey conducted by Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore indicated that 78% of households own computers at home and 7 in 10 households have Internet access (2006).[6] The CIA's The World Factbook reports that Singapore has 2.422 million Internet users (2005) and 898,762 Internet hosts (2006).[7]

Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 6 (2019)


  • Subscribers: 12,067,200 (87.52% wireless, 12.06% optical fibre, 0.37% cable modem, 0.02% xDSL, 0.03% others) as of June 2019[8]

Fiber Internet

  • Services are provided via NetLink Trust, to the residential and commercial entities. Whilst the services are via one infrastructure, the Fiber itself are provided by Singtel and these are independent of the ISP Equipment. Currently the OLT are provided by Nucleus Connect and Singtel using Huawei, ZTE and Ericsson ONT. The current licensed Service Providers are Singtel, Starhub, M1, MyRepublic, ViewQwest and WhizComms. Singapore is currently aiming 95% Household connection by End 2012 with speeds up to 1Gbit/s, typically where a customer usually subscribes to 100 to 200Mbit/s packages with Voice and IPTV on the platform.

While Nucleus Connect is the Operating Company (OpCo) of the NetLink Trust infrastructure, it is not the service provider, rather the company that switches the network to the respective ISPs.

Country code (Top level domain): SG

Internet in Singapore[edit]

Singapore as a small densely populated island nation is the pioneer, and continues to be one of the few countries in the World in which broadband internet access is readily available to just about any would-be user anywhere in the country, with connectivity over 99%. In a government-led initiative to connect the island in a high-speed broadband network using various mediums such as fibre, DSL and cable, the Singapore ONE project was formally announced in June 1996, and commercially launched in June 1998. By December 1998, Singapore ONE is available nationwide with the completion of the national fibre optics network.

In 1997, commercial trials for Singapore Telecommunications' (Singtel) ADSL-based "SingTel Magix" service were undertaken in March, before being launched in June. Also in June, Singapore Cable Vision commenced trials for its cable modem based services, before being commercially deployed in December 1999. Singtel's ADSL service was subsequently rolled out on a nationwide scale in August 2000.

In January 2001, the Broadband Media Association was formed to promote the broadband industry. By April the same year there were 6 broadband internet providers, with the total number of broadband users exceeding 300,000. Pacific Internet introduced wireless broadband services in October 2001.

In 2007, Infocomm Development Authority(IDA) of Singapore introduced a programme named "Wireless@SG". It is part of its Next Generation National Infocomm Infrastructure initiative. Users can enjoy free, both in-door and outdoor seamless wireless broadband access with speeds of up to 1 Mbit/s at with high human traffic. As at June 2007, there are more than 460,000 subscribers and 4,200 hotspots under the Wireless@SG programme. In the same year, M1 introduced its mobile broadband services.

Due to the rise of NetLink Trust, operators – Singtel and StarHub will all be converted fully to fibre optic by July 2014.

Optical Fiber broadband providers:

Wireless@SG operators (Up to 5 Mbit/s):

Mobile broadband providers:


  1. ^ a b Banerjee, Indrajit; Logan, Stephen (2008). Asian Communication Handbook 2008. Singapore: AMIC. p. 436. ISBN 9789814136105.
  2. ^ a b c Dossani, Rafiq (2002). Telecommunications Reform in India. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 100. ISBN 9781567205022.
  3. ^ a b Read, William; Youtie, Jan (1996). Telecommunications Strategy for Economic Development. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 55. ISBN 0275954153.
  4. ^ "Statistic on Telecom Service for 2019 Jan - Jun". Infocomm Media Development Authority. Retrieved 1 April 2020.
  5. ^ "Statistic on Telecom Service for 2019 Jan - Jun". Infocomm Media Development Authority. Retrieved 1 April 2020.
  6. ^ Annual Survey on Infocomm Usage in Households and by Individuals for 2006, published 3 March 2007
  7. ^ The World Factbook, Singapore, URL accessed on 2 September 2007.
  8. ^ "Statistics on Telecom Services for 2019 (Jan – Jun)". Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore.


  1. Terry Johal, "Controlling the Internet: The use of legislation and its effectiveness in Singapore (pdf file)", Proceedings, 15th Biennial Conference of the Asian Studies Association of Australia, Canberra, 2004.

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