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Launching Ceremony of MobileOne's CDMA Service

Mr Leong Keng Thai, Director-General Telecommunication Authority of Singapore (TAS) Speech - Launching Ceremony of MobileOne's CDMA Service

Mr Leong Keng Thai, Director-General
Telecommunication Authority of Singapore (TAS)
Speech - Launching Ceremony of MobileOne's CDMA Service
Singapore, 1 April 1998

Good Morning, Ladies and Gentlemen,


I am very pleased to be here today to officiate at MobileOne's launch of its code-division multiple access (CDMA) mobile cellular service.

Industry has been buzzing with excitement over the introduction of an innovative technology like CDMA that promises advanced technical performance and greater efficiency in the use of spectrum. Likewise, the general public has also been watching developments with great interest. The introduction of a new mobile system in Singapore would offer greater consumer choice, wider range of services, more competitive prices and enhanced quality of service standards to consumers here.

Wireless Revolution

The phenomenal growth of wireless communication has made it one of the most important technologies of this decade. Advances in radio technologies provide various telecommunication operators with attractive alternatives to the traditional wireline networks. For example, the industry forecasts indicate that the world will have more than 600 million users of cellular services at the start of the next millennium. Mobile phone users will soon be able to use a single integrated device comprising what would now be two or three different types of telephone (cellular, satellite and personal communications service) capable of switching automatically between systems and allowing a subscriber to be reached anywhere on earth at any time on a single number. The pace of change is relentless and we must harness the essence of technological advancement for the benefit of all.

Looking at the Asia Pacific region, it has been predicted that the expected investment in the telecommunication market here will exceed US$300 billion within the next five years. Asia Pacific will continue to have a highly competitive and vibrant telecommunication market, notwithstanding the current regional economic crisis. As the deregulation trend continues to sweep throughout the Asia Pacific and with the successful conclusion of the WTO-GBT negotiations last year, there will be significant opportunities to gain access to previously inaccessible markets. Over the past five years, it has been reported that some 63 cellular and 35 fixed line licences have been awarded in Asia Pacific. The Asia Pacific is also currently the largest single market for telecommunications products and services, and the teledensity in this region is growing at twice the rate of any region in the world.

With a fully liberalised telecommunication market in year 2000, Singapore will be one of the most open and competitive info-communication markets in the world. Singapore is committed to prepare and be ready for the next century -- a century that will be shaped by a country's ability to assimilate technology into business and everyday life. New technologies will continue to be unleashed, leading to innovative services and products that may be unimaginable today. We must continue to remain proactive and technologically ready to embrace the highly dynamic changes in the telecommunication revolution so that Singapore will continue to be internationally competitive and our lives continually enriched.

The regulator and the industry must share a common vision of the future focused on meeting the needs of the consumers and businesses. This lays a solid foundation upon which we can develop relevant and meaningful regulatory policies and the industry can provide useful and timely info-communication services. To maximise consumer benefits, there must be continued liberalisation initiatives and innovation efforts. Using liberalisation as a key measure to foster competition in the marketplace will provide the necessary incentive and push to industry to pursue innovation in order to stay competitive and meet the challenges of the marketplace.

Strong Continued Growth

I am very pleased with the development of competition with the introduction of one additional mobile phone provider exactly 1 year ago. Singapore has seen intense and dynamic market forces at play. Both mobile phone operators have competed aggressively to win customers and capture market share.

The Singapore mobile phone market continues to show strong signs of healthy growth. As at end February 1998, the total number of mobile phone subscribers stood at about 799,500 with the cellular penetration rate of about 26%. For the month of February alone, our mobile phone market grew at a healthy rate of around 3% Aggressive competition between MobileOne and SingTel Mobile to attract and retain mobile phone customers has clearly spurred service take-up and market growth.

This healthy growth trend is likely to prevail in the coming years. This prediction is based on actual experience in countries with more mature competitive mobile phone markets like Hong Kong, Sweden, Norway and Finland who have currently achieved penetration rates between 30% to 40%.

As the demands of mobility and contactability increase among Singaporeans, the future of mobile phone market continues to be bright. However, I would like to highlight that strong continued growth in the mobile phone market should not be taken as a foregone conclusion. All mobile phone operators must continue to offer the market and their customers superior services at great value.

With close to 10 years of handphone service availability in Singapore since the introduction of the first analogue mobile phone service in 1988, Singaporeans have progressively increased their expectations. They want greater price competitiveness and better range of services. The public is also far less tolerant of service disruptions or network failures.

Technology Neutrality

In an increasingly competitive market environment, operators must distinguish themselves in customer support and after-sales care. Consumers see and appreciate attentive customer care providers, accurate billing, easily-understood bills, good network coverage, high voice quality, reliable service and comprehensive as well as customer-oriented value-added services. Hence, marketing of mobile services based on a technology platform alone may not yield as much dividends to operators if the technology does not translate into tangible consumer benefits evident to end-users. I am convinced that in a highly competitive mobile phone market like Singapore, all mobile phone operators will be highly responsive to the market and individual consumer needs.


On this note, I would like to congratulate MobileOne on this momentous occasion that marks a milestone in its service development. I would also like to wish MobileOne every success in the launch of its new CDMA service in Singapore.