Singapore Grants Five Major Telecoms Licenses

SINGAPORE (03/29/2000) - Five operators will be able to offer a full range of telecommunications services in Singapore from Saturday after winning FBO (facilities-based operator) licenses from the local regulatory body, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA).

The high interest shown in obtaining these licenses is a reflection of Singapore's position alongside Hong Kong as a leading Asian telecommunications hub, with over 5,000 multinational companies basing their regional operations here, according to Yeo Cheow Tong, Singapore's minister for communications and information technology.

The five winners, along with eight existing operators granted licenses to expand the scope of their operations, 24 companies given licenses to offer resale and Internet services and 30 operators given licenses to offer callback, IP (Internet protocol) telephony and resale services, are the beneficiaries of Singapore's deregulation of its telecommunications industry.

The market will now see a total of around 20 potential ISPs (Internet service providers) and 20 operators offering resale services, IDA said in a statement issued today.

The five FBO licenses have been granted to:

-- U.S.-based MCI WorldCom Inc.'s local subsidiary;-- Australia's Telstra Corp. in a joint venture with local company DataOne Asia Pte. Ltd;-- Australian operator Davnet Pty. Ltd.'s local subsidiary;-- local company Flag Telecom Singapore Ltd.; -- local company SP Telecommunications Pte. Ltd.

These five companies, granted the highest-level license, have "indicated their commitment towards developing the info-communications infrastructure in Singapore," IDA said in its statement.

They will compete with incumbent Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (SingTel) and already-licensed StarHub Pte. Ltd., which will offer a full range of services after Saturday.

Some of these companies will land extra submarine fiber-optic cable in Singapore, some will deploy state-of-the-art broadband networks, and others will use innovative transmission mechanisms such as infrared communications.

All are expected to offer innovative and flexible products for the business community, IDA said in its statement.

Among the companies granted licenses to expand the scope of their operations to include infrastructure development and broadband access are UUnet Technologies Inc., cable TV operator Singapore Cable Vision Pte. Ltd., ISP Pacific Internet Ltd., local mobile phone operator Mobile One Asia Pte. Ltd. and infrastructure provider 1-Net Singapore Pte. Ltd.

Among the companies granted second-tier SBO (service-based operator) licenses are the local subsidiaries of AT&T Corp., Deutsche Telekom AG, Equant NV and France Télécom SA's Global One subsidiary, IDA said.

Activities from the new licensees will bring investments of S$3 billion (US$1.75 billion) over the next three years, lower costs, increased choice and improved service quality, Yeo said.

Singapore's IDA is still to announce a level of compensation for SingTel and StarHub, which had been promised a duopoly until April 2002 before an abrupt government decision in January to throw the market open to all comers.

IDA can be contacted at +65-322-1999 or online at http://www.ida.gov.sg/.

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