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Set up a Singapore Telecommunication Business

How to Set Up a Telecommunication Company in Singapore

 How to Set up a Singapore Telecommunication Business

What is a Telecommunication Company?

How do you go about your company incorporation in Singapore if you want to set up a telecommunications business? What do you need to know before commencing your business in Singapore? Before you begin to register a Singapore company, you need to know what is a telecommunications company in the first place?

Telecommunication companies provide telecommunication related services to customers. Examples of these services include (but are not limited to:

  • mobile telephony services
  • normal telephony services
  • data hosting services
  • higher band-width services
  • satellite services and so on

Are There Any Perks to Starting Such A a Telecommunication Company in Singapore?

It is clear over the last few years that the telecommunication service sector in Asia-Pacific is growing fast.  It’s all about Asia at the moment, and as businesses start to grow, so too does consumer income. Asia-Pacific is definitely the trend-setter when it comes to being connected with the rest of the world.

Singapore has long had the reputation of having one of the best telecom networks in the world. Companies here range from network equipment providers and infocomm product developers, to data centers and telecom operators. Singapore’s strengths are:

Singapore is poised to play a very important role as the launch-pad for companies. They can leverage on the quickly-expanding telecom market in Asia.

What are the different types of business activities conducted by telecommunication companies and what are the licensing requirements for each of these business activities?

Here is a list of several common business activities:

  • Fixed Line Services (example: optical fiber, submarine cables, and so on_
  • Mobile cellular and radio paging services
  • Internet Access Providers
  • Web hosting services
  • Satellite up-link and down-link services
  • Third party telecommunications or value-adding network operators

Outlined below are the licensing requirements for each of these six business activities mentioned above:

Fixed Line Services

  • FBO (Facilities Based Operator) License
  • Satellite Downlink License
  • License for In-Building Terrestrial Telecommunication Systems.
  • Services Based Operator (SBO Class) License.
  • Services Based Operator (SBO Individual) License.

Mobile Cellular and Radio Paging Services

  • FBO (Facilities Based Operator) License
  • Mobile Network License

Internet Access Providers

  • License for In-Building Terrestrial Telecommunication Systems
  • Services Based Operator (SBO Individual) License

Web Hosting Services

  • Satellite Downlink License.
  • Services Based Operator (SBO Class) License.
  • Services Based Operator (SBO Individual) License.

Satellite up-link and down-link services

  • Satellite Communication Station License.
  • Satellite Uplink/Downlink License for Broadcasting Purpose.
  • Satellite Downlink License.

Third Party Telecommunications Network Operators

  • Satellite Communication Station License.
  • Satellite Downlink License
  • Satellite Uplink/Downlink License for Broadcasting Purpose.
  • Mobile Network License.
  • Services Based Operator (SBO Class) License.
  • Services Based Operator (SBO Individual) License.

I want to know more about the types of licenses mentioned above. Just what are these licenses for?

FBO (Facilities Based Operator) License

Just what is a facilities-based operator? It’s an operator that provides telecommunication systems or/and services through the deployment of telecommunication infrastructure. FBO licensees do not have any foreign equity limits imposed upon them.

To apply for FBO License, you’ll need to send application to the IDA. In your application, you’ll have to provide a few details;

This includes your vision for the company and your commitment in fulfilling your vision and plans. You must include:

  • the company’s competition strategies,
  • organisational structure and financial capability,
  • the technical soundness of proposed plans and
  • the technical capability to implement said plans.

The criteria for your FBO License approval depends on the benefits your company will bring to the

  • telecom sector,
  • local consumers, and
  • Singapore’s economy.

Provided all documentation is complete, a successful application will generally take 8 weeks to be processed. You’ll have to pay SGD1000 for administrative fees per application.

Successful applications will be levied an annual license fee amounting to 1% of the licensee’s Annual Gross Turnover (AGTO). This is subject to a minimum amount that would depend on the services offered.

You’ll also have to lodge the following with IDA:

  • a performance The sum is 5% of the total budgeted capital investment that you committed during the application. This bond will cover things like the obligation to comply with IDA-issued directions.

The FBO License’s duration of validity will differ, with the exact period dependent on the scope of your company’s operations.

License for In-Building Terrestrial Telecommunication Systems

If you plan on laying in-building cables in:

  • telecommunication riser ducts,
  • provide cable access service to other providers, or
  • telecommunication services to tenants

you’ll need to need to acquire the relevant and necessary licenses to do so.

Satellite Downlink License

Are you intending to provide and operate a satellite downlink service for broadcasting signals? Then you’ll need a Satellite Downlink License. This license is not valid if your intention is to uplink broadcasting signals.

The IDA places no restrictions on foreign ownership for this license.

If you’re applying for the Satellite Downlink License, you’ll need to fill in and submit an application form to the IDA.

This must be complete with supporting documents and information, such as:

  • a copy of the Business Registration Certificate,
  • a description of the company’s business activities,
  • the types of signals to be downlinked,
  • name of satellites accessed,
  • location of satellite downlinking system, etc.

The annual license fee is SGD200 and it is valid for 10 years, renewable on a 5-yearly basis.

Satellite Uplink/Downlink License for Broadcasting Purposes

To provide and operate a satellite uplink/downlink service for broadcasting signals, you’ll have to acquire a Satellite Uplink/Downlink License from the IDA. Remember, this is only for broadcasting signals – holding this license does not allow you to provide telecommunication services.

The IDA places no restriction on foreign ownership for this License.

Before applying, ensure the proposed site for the earth station, and its electromagnetic environment is suitable for the operation of the satellite uplink/downlink facility. It must also not, in any way, interfere with other telecommunication systems/services.

When you fill and submit an application to the IDA, you’ll have to attach other documents and information as well. These documents are:

  • a copy of the company’s Business Registration Certificate,
  • description of the business, details of the board of directors,
  • details of company shareholding,
  • paid-up capital, the name of satellites to be accessed,
  • type of signals to be uplinked/downlinked,
  • location of satellite uplinking/downlinking system, etc.

The annual license fee is SGD5000. It is valid for 10 years and is renewable on a 5-year basis.

A complementary Satellite Communication Station License is required for establishing and operating a satellite communication station in Singapore.

Satellite Communication Station License

A Satellite Communication Station License is required for the transmission and/or receipt of messages or data via satellite communications. The exact license you’ll have to apply for depends on the type of station you plan to set up. Some common Satellite Communication Station Licenses are

o   Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) License

o   Portable Satellite Communication Terminal License

o   Earth Station License

o   Tracking, Telemetry and Command (TT&C) Earth Station License

The IDA has final approval on the access of any space segment, radio frequencies or radio frequency bands. The applicant must comply with :

  • the relevant rules and regulations,
  • and procedures imposed by the satellite operator for station access, booking, and fees.

Successful applications are usually processed within 5 working days. The fees for the licenses vary. Portable Satellite Communication Terminal Licenses cost SGD 100 per annum. Others may cost SGD 50 per annum. Also payable are annual and A&P (one time application and processing) fees, which are based on the frequency band-widths used.

Service Based Operator (SBO) License

A Services-Based Operator (SBO) License is required for operators leasing telecommunication network elements. This includes Fibre, switching services, transmission capacity. This must be acquired from FBO licensees for the purpose of either

(1) providing telecommunication services to third parties; or

(2) resell the telecommunication services of the FBOs to third parties.

SBOs can be individually licensed or class-licensed, where the license you apply for would depend on the scope of operations and the nature of the services provided.

SBO Class licensees

Licensees of the SBO Class License are not subject to any foreign equity limits. Applications to the IDA, along with all the necessary supporting documents, will take 2-8 working days to be processed. A one-time license fee of SGD200 applies; no renewal is needed.

An SBO Class License permits provision of following services:

  • Internet Based Voice and Data Services
  • Call-back/Call Re-origination Services
  • Store-and-Retrieve (S&R) Value-Added Network Services*
  • Resale of Public Switched Telecommunication Services*
  • Audiotex Services
  • Public Chain Payphone Services*
  • International Calling Card (ICC) Services

*Note- No license fee is required for the provision of these services. Please check with the IDA before hand to confirm whether you’ll need to pay a service fee for your telecommunication company’s services if you must pay a service fee.

SBO Individual Licenses

SBO Individual Licenses generally applies to those operators leasing international transmission capacity for the purpose of providing their services. As with SBO Class Licenses, no foreign equity limits are imposed on licensees. Requirements for SBO Individual License applications:

o   SBO Individual licensees collecting deposits and/or issues prepaid cards for collection of payments upfront must have at least S$100,000 in paid-up capital at the point of licensing.

o   To apply for the SBO Individual license, you’ll need to fill in an application form, and submit it to the IDA. Supporting documents must be provided. Those SBO individual licensees must also include these supporting documents:

  • the latest audited financial statement,
  • the proposed source of funding for pre-paid services,
  • a sample of template design and
  • a breakdown of the yearly cash flow for the company’s next 3 years of operation.

The above is applicable for SBO Licensees who are collecting deposits and/or issues prepaid cards for the collection of payments upfront.

This annual license fee for the SBO Individual License is SGD5000. For licensees who only provide Live Audiotex service, they pay a lower fee: SGD200, payable once every 5 years. The SBO Individual License is valid for 5 years and renewable on a 5-year basis thereafter.

An SBO Individual License permits the license holder to provide these services:

1.Resale of Leased Circuit Services

2.International Simple Resale (ISR)

3.Internet Exchange Services

4.Public Internet Access Services

5.Store-and-Forward (S&F) Value-Added Network Services

6.Virtual Private Network Services

7.Back haul Bandwidth Capacity Services

8.Global Mobile Personal Communications by Satellite (GMPCS) Services

9.Live Audiotex Services

10.Managed Data Network Services

11.Mobile Communications on Aircraft

12.Mobile Virtual Network Operation

13.Satellite Mobile Telephone or Data Services

14.Bandwidth Capacity Exchange Operation

15.Prepaid Services for other telecommunication services such as:

o   Call-back / Call Re-origination Services

o   Internet Based Voice and Data Services

o   Store-and-Retrieve (S&R) Value-Added Network Services

o   International Calling Card (ICC) Services

o   Resale of Public Switched Telecommunication Services

16.Voice and Data Services with Masking of Calling Line Identity

17.IP Telephony Services

Mobile Network License

You need a Mobile Network License if you intend to provide mobile network services. Some examples of these services are: mobile cellular and pager services, mobile data, trunk radio and similar services. This is the Mobile Network License is issued by the IDA to those operating Public Mobile Networks, Fixed Wireless Networks and Wide-area Private Networks. All radio equipment used within such networks has to be IDA-approved.

All applications must be submitted to the IDA, along with any supporting document. The license fee and radio frequency fees will depend on the type of network operated by the telecommunication company.

Are there any other licenses or permits I might need to run my Telecommunication Company?

We’ve covered the major licenses above, but you might need other licenses or permits for the operation your telecommunication company. Here is a list of other licenses you might require:

o   General Radio Communication License – You’ll need this license if you intend to transmit or receive messages through radio communication.

o   Localized Private Network License – Intending to provide localized private network services, like offering walkie-talkie services within a localized area? Then you have to apply for this license.

o   Localized Radio Communication License – To operate transceivers, alarm systems, wireless data systems (like wireless LAN) and/or any other radio-communication equipment that has been authorized by IDA.

o   Wide-area private Network License – if you provide wide-area private network services. Example: you provide walkie-talkie services, within a non-localized area.

o   Telecommunication Dealers License – For importers, manufacturers intending to import, manufacture, lease, sell, or sell telecommunication equipment.

o   Experimental Station License – Necessary if your company is conducting research and doing tests and experiments/demonstrations in radio communications, or via radio communications equipment.

o   Permit for Road Occupation Management – For Work which might affect public street or areas. Applications are lodged with LTA (Land Transport Authority).

Ready to incorporate with professional help?

At Paul Hype Page, you don’t pay us by the hour, you gain from the value we provide in that hour.

For Singapore company registration, you’ve come to the right place. Let us assist you today and help you determine the best corporate entity for your business. Paul Hype Page is Singapore’s foremost expert when it comes to company formation, corporate tax and tax exemption guidance, work visa preparation, nominee director services, company secretaries services and more. Need advice on building a strong business profile? We can help. For more information about Paul Hype Page & Co. professional company incorporation services, click here

Paul Hype Page & Co. is an ACRA-certified business adviser. Our team of seasoned professional can help you set up a company in Singapore very quickly and easily following all legal entities, and offer you sound advice on how to make it successful too.

What Are The Guidelines For Foreigners to Start a Business in Singapore4

In addition to business registration, we’ll also guide you how to:

  1. Write a business plan – Learn how to write a compelling business plan by accessing our sample business plans, or other helpful market research information
  2. Perform market research – Understand your business market, learn how it can enhance your business growth, and how to properly conduct a market research for your business
  3. Corporate Secretary Services – If you are registering a company in Singapore, you will need a Corporate Secretary. Corporate compliance in Singapore is a complex legal requirement for all Singapore registered companies. Our company secretarial team helps our clients and their officers to fulfil their statutory obligations in an efficient manner.
  4. Manage your finances – We’ll offer you the best resources and information to help you fully understand all financial concepts and teach you how to perform basic accounting tasks like budgeting, bookkeeping, financial analysis, among others

To further aid you, we have provided here a resource area with industry specific information and other industry resources to help you successfully start and run your business.

  1. Singapore Business Opportunities 
  2. Singapore Business Licences
  3. Singapore Tax Planning
  4. Singapore Company Incorporation
  5. Singapore Company Yearly Statutory Requirements
  6. Singapore Working Visa Guide

By Eric Eio
Managing Partner of Paul Hype Page & Co.

Eric was awarded an ACCA graduate in 2000 and also graduated from University of Sydney with a Bachelor degree in Computer Science & Accounting. Since graduation, he had worked in Big 4 as an auditor , including a one year overseas stint with Ernst & Young, Shanghai in 2005. He left his last appointment as an Audit Managerial position with PricewaterhouseCoopers, Singapore in 2008 before setting up his own Certified Public Accountant Practice – Paul Hype Page & Co. His firm is being selected to be one of the advisory panel for Singapore top 500 SME.

shiv kumar says:

i am shiv kumar from india. i want licence for cable tv and broadband internet services, i have read all licence in TELECOMMUNICTION BUSINESS licence. but there are more type of licence in TELECOMMUNICTION BUSINESS. i am confused to see all type of licence. please help me for looking ” cable tv and internet broadband” licence. and cost and process ?

Paul Hype Page says:

Dear Shiv,

We would need more information about your business before we can proceed further. Do drop us an email should you require our incorporation services.


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