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Changes to Telecom Licensing Requirements to Increase Competition and Promote Consumer Interest

To encourage further competition in the telecom market and promote consumer interests, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) will revise licensing requirements from 1 April 2003, for Services-Based Operation (SBO) and Facilities-Based Operation (FBO) licences...

Singapore, 31 March 2003 | For Immediate Release

To encourage further competition in the telecom market and promote consumer interests, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) will revise licensing requirements from 1 April 2003, for Services-Based Operation (SBO) and Facilities-Based Operation (FBO) licences.

Firstly, the local incorporation qualifying criteria will be lifted from all SBO licence and certain categories of FBO licence applications for foreign companies registered under the Singapore Companies Act (Cap 50) (CA). This move will lower the market entry barrier for foreign businesses, thereby encouraging competition and international trade in Singapore.

For FBO licence categories, IDA will accept applications not only from locally incorporated companies, but also from foreign registered companies for the VSAT Licence, Satellite Downlink Licence, and FBOs deploying fixed wireless infrastructure for broadband multimedia services such as those using wireless LAN, LMDS, infra-red and laser technologies.

Secondly, only SBO (Individual) and FBO licensees will be allowed to provide prepaid international calling cards services1 with the amendment of the Telecommunications (Class Licences) Regulations from 1 April 2003. Prior to the amendment, SBO (Class) Licensees can provide prepaid international calling card services. They will now be required to apply for SBO (Individual) licences by 1 October 2003, if they intend to continue such service provision2. This allows IDA to ascertain that those who wish to provide prepaid international calling cards services will have the necessary resources to do so. This in turn helps towards protecting consumers' interest.

The licensing revision follows IDA's earlier issue of voluntary 'Advisory Guidelines for Prepaid International Calling Card Services' on 1 March 2003. The guidelines encourage prepaid international calling card service providers to adopt a common set of industry best practices, help consumers make informed choices, and increase awareness of possible refund policies and channels of recourse.

IDA Deputy Chief Executive and Director-General (Telecoms) Leong Keng Thai said, 'Both revisions in the licensing requirements are in line with IDA's intent to promote a healthier and more competitive telecom market where consumers will ultimately benefit from a greater variety of service choices at competitive prices."

Revised SBO and FBO licensing and application requirements can be found at, under the sections "Policy & Regulation", "Licensing Guidelines", "Guidelines on Licensing Schemes".


Notes to Editors:

1 Pre-paid services refer to services where the consumer provides payment upfront for the promise of future service delivery. For pre-paid cards, the consumer purchases a card with a fixed stored-value. The balance in the card is deducted following each use. Generally, the card becomes inoperative once the balance reaches zero.

2 For the SBO (Class) licence, applicants are required to register with the IDA for the telecommunication services they wish to provide. However, applicants are required to apply for the SBO (Individual) licence with IDA, by providing information such as its business set-up, its financial strength, and the scope of its operations. IDA will review the information provided and will grant the licence once it has assessed that the applicant has met the qualifying conditions. This allows for increased scrutiny at the point of licence application, which will provide increased preliminary protection for consumers.

Under the existing terms and conditions of the SBO (Individual) & (Class) licences, IDA also requires licensees who collect monetary deposit and/or use prepaid cards for collection of payment from customers to submit a Bankers' Guarantee (BG) of S$100,000. The primary purpose of the BG collection is to ensure a minimum level of liability such that only players with certain amount of financial resources are able to provide the service.

About Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore

The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) is a dynamic organisation with an integrated perspective to developing, promoting and regulating info-communications in Singapore. In the fast-changing and converging spheres of telecommunications, information and media technologies, IDA will be the catalyst for change and growth in Singapore's evolution into a vibrant global info-communications technology centre. For more information, visit

For media clarifications, please contact:

Cindy Kong
Manager, Corporate Communication
Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore
Tel: +65 6211 1997
Fax: +65 6211 2227