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ST Messaging's Launch Ceremony

Mr Mah Bow Tan, Minister for Communications Speech - ST Messaging's Launch Ceremony

Mr Mah Bow Tan, Minister for Communications
Speech - ST Messaging's Launch Ceremony
Singapore, 1 April 1997

1. Today is a special day in the history of telecommunications in Singapore. It signals the start of competition in our mobile communication services market.

2. Two years ago, TAS announced the results of its tender exercise to select one more mobile phone and three more paging licensees. When the tender for the mobile communication services licences was called, Singapore had a penetration rate of 28.5 per 100 population for pagers. Today, the paging penetration rate stands at 34 per 100 population with an annual growth of 12% which is among the highest in the world. Even with such a high penetration rate, the new paging operators have forecast furthur growth up to 50%.

3. All the three new paging operators have been working hard over the last two years to roll-out their networks so that they can launch their commercial services promptly today. Consumers are now spoilt for choice and can look forward to a greater variety of paging services at even more competitive prices.

4. With two mobile operators and four paging operators, we can expect competition in the local telecommunications market to be keen. We should also make sure it is healthy. For this purpose, TAS has established a regulatory framework which emphasizes sustainable competition in the long run, for the ultimate benefit of consumers. TAS has set ground rules governing operators' behaviour which guards against unfair practices or conduct. This is part of the total framework TAS has established in guiding the evolution of Singapore's telecommunication market from a monopolistic structure to a competitive multi-operator environment.

5. An important role which TAS will play in this multi-operator environment is that of mediator/facilitator in areas that operators fail to resolve among themselves. Such areas include interconnection and number portability. As the industry's regulator, TAS will continue to play an active role in mediating any dispute to ensure that there is a level playing field.

6. For consumers, TAS will strive to reduce the cost of telecom services. It has, in the past, acted as the proxy competitor to SingTel to reduce telecom charges. It must constantly review its procedures and practices to enhance efficiency and to pass back savings to consumers. In this regard, I am pleased to announce that TAS will implement a class licensing scheme for those who own, possess or use mobile phones, mobile data terminals or trunked radio terminals.

7. A growing market supports healthy competition as operators strive to gain greater market share by offering more innovative service packages at attractive prices. ST Messaging, as with the other paging and mobile telephone operators, have been exciting the public with a wide range of promotional and marketing strategies as well as service trials. To effectively compete, operators have to increasingly offer value-added services such as round-the-clock, direct-access secretarial services and subscriber information services such as news, financial information and sports results.

8. Value-added services are necessary to attract a small yet sophisticated consumer market like Singapore. Operators have to grow the existing market by developing niche markets within each service. Value-added services allow operators to differentiate customers and cater to specific individualised needs. Today, we see features such as voice mail and news and financial information being provided through the pager. Tomorrow, we can expect to see more innovative services being introduced with paging services and changes in technology. We would similarly expect to see even more diversity in the range of pagers available.

9. I am confident that all the new players in the mobile arena would successfully attract the public with their services packages and promise of value-added features, which would be of high quality and at attractive prices. Let me take this opportunity to wish ST Messaging every success.