In the three years since Singapore's telecommunications market deregulation, Singapore has experienced growth in competition and technological innovation...
(Singapore, 3 February 2004)
In the three years since Singapore's telecommunications market deregulation, Singapore has experienced growth in competition and technological innovation. End-users have enjoyed lower costs, greater choice and higher quality in services.
As of Dec 2003, the market has witnessed mobile penetration rates that surpass 80%, and an increase in total international call usage by at least 56%. IDD rates and voice-over IP rates have dropped by up to 60% and 80%, respectively, producing minimum cost savings of S$78.9 million a month. There is diversity in available services provided by 32 facilities-based operators and over 600 services-based operators.
Singapore stands as one of the most advanced markets in the region, with a high Internet penetration rate of above 59%. Coupled with prolific use of short message service (SMS), wireless data services have thrived together with Singapore's Infocomm-savvy population. GPRS services have been available since mid-200l, amidst 3G infrastructure trials by mobile operators: SingTel Mobile, Mobile One and StarHub Mobile.
We enjoy 99% island-wide broadband coverage, with submarine cable capacity of over 21 terabits per second that links Singapore to all of Asia, US, Europe and Middle East. There is excellent direct Internet connectivity to more than 30 countries, with more than 90 mbps connectivity each to key regional markets and more than 1 Gbps connectivity to US.
Recognizing the rapid changes in the global telecommunications industry, Singapore introduced a full liberalization of its telecommunications market two years ahead of schedule on April 1, 2000.
As part of this effort, all direct and indirect foreign equity limits for public telecommunications services licenses were lifted. Basic telecommunications services were opened to full competition. New operators were given the flexibility to determine the types of networks, systems and facilities they wish to build and own, as well as the types of services they wish to offer.
In September 2000, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), the country's telecommunications regulatory agency, put the Code of Practice for Competition in the Provision of Telecom Services in place. The Code provides a clear and competitive telecoms regulatory framework facilitating the rapid entry of competition in Singapore and a strong incentive for companies to invest in infrastructure.
Embracing globalisation as an opportunity, Singapore has embarked on a series of free-trade agreement negotiations with major world economies.
The FTAs in effect include:
- WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services, including the 1997 Reference Paper on Basic Telecommunications Services
- ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services
- Agreement between New Zealand and Singapore on a closer Economic Partnership
- Agreement between Japan and the Republic of Singapore for a New-Age Economic Partnership
- Agreement between the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) States and Singapore
- US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement
The pursuit of an open economy, together with pro-business policies and transparent regulations, creates a conducive business environment. Today, more than 6,000 multinational companies call Singapore home, enjoying level-playing opportunities, forming partnerships with a local and global businesses.