Country Listing

Singapore Table of Contents



The Singaporean government, which had inherited a fairly good telecommunications system from the British at independence, assigned telecommunications a high priority in economic planning. By the late 1980s, Singapore had one of the world's most advanced telecommunications infrastructures, developed under the guidance of Telecoms, a statutory board. Its mission was to provide high quality communications for domestic and international requirements, and to serve the business community as well as the public. Telecoms offered a comprehensive range of products and services at rates among the lowest in the world. Information services accounted for an estimated 2 percent of Singapore's GDP in 1988.

Chartered to function commercially, Telecoms received no subsidies. Aside from an initial loan, Telecoms paid for its capital needs out of its earnings. In lieu of taxes, it made an annual payment to the Treasury comparable to a business tax. This financial autonomy was a major factor in Telecom's ability to respond to user demand. During the early 1980s, as the drive for high technology got underway, Telecom's capital budget rose by 20 to 30 percent a year, the highest growth of any public agency in Singapore. Although the rate of increase dropped to about 15 to 20 percent in the late 1980s, the capital budget remained high and continued to increase.

Telecoms offered a large and growing number of services, including radio paging, mobile phones, facsimile, electronic mail, and telepac, a system for linking computers locally and internationally. By 1987 Singapore's domestic telephone network was completely push-button, and all twenty-six telephone exchanges were linked by an optical fiber network. The country had more than 1.2 million telephones in 1988, or 48.5 telephones for every 100 Singaporeans, providing virtually 100 percent coverage in homes and offices.

Satellite links with the world were provided by satellite earth stations at Bukit Timah and on Sentosa Island. Submarine cables connected Singapore to all of its ASEAN neighbors except Brunei, which was scheduled to be linked with Singapore by fiber-optic cable in 1991. In 1988 Singapore installed the region's first dedicated digital data network, providing up to two mega bits per second (Mbps) high-speed data transmission and voice communications. Intelsat Business Service was available for a wide range of applications, including corporate data communications, financial services, and remote printing via satellite. A video conferencing service also was offered by 1988.

Data as of December 1989