Saturday, September 18, 2021

Internet & Communications in Singapore

AsiaSingaporeInternet & Communications in Singapore

By phone

Singapore’s international telephone country code is 65. SingTel, StarHub, and MobileOne (M1) are the three major telecommunications carriers in Singapore.

In Singapore, phone numbers are formatted as +65 6396 0605, where “65” is the country code for Singapore. Because of Singapore’s tiny size, there are no area codes, and the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), Radio Network, and IP Telephony are all part of the same 8-digit numbering system.

The first digit of this eight-digit number indicates the service type:
3nnn-nnnn – VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) services
6nnn-nnnn – Fixed Line services, which include Fixed Line Voice Over IP.
8nnn-nnnn – Services for mobile phones
9nnn-nnnn – Paging services, as well as mobile phone services

Most toll-free numbers in Singapore are not accessible from outside the country and have the following formats: 1800-185-0165 or 800-185-0165.

In Singapore, nearly everyone, including many young children, has a mobile phone, and coverage is usually good across the nation. International roaming on all three service providers’ GSM 900/1800 and 3G (W-CDMA) networks may be available; verify with your operator before you travel to be sure. Prepaid SIM cards may be purchased in 7-Eleven convenience stores, phone shops, and currency exchange counters; just bring your own GSM/3G phone or purchase a cheap secondhand phone in Singapore. To sign up, you’ll need an international passport or a Singapore ID.

A local phone call costs between $0.05 and $0.25 per minute, while each local text message (SMS) costs about $0.05, and international SMS costs between $0.15 and $0.25 per minute (but a few dozen local SMS are usually thrown in for free when you top up). Incoming calls may potentially be charged to you. Unless you top-up your prepaid card, it will expire in 6 months (which can be done outside Singapore). The carriers also sell special top-up cards that provide a greater amount of minutes for a lower price, but they expire faster. Mobile data on prepaid voice SIM cards, like in many other countries, may be prohibitively costly. A 1GB bundle is available from StarHub (valid for 30 days). It costs $25 and is designed for BlackBerries, although it can be used on any phone. To activate your StarHub SIM, dial *122# and follow the on-screen instructions. Data-only SIMs may be less expensive. StarHub offers a 2Mbit/s unlimited service for S$15 per week for short visits. Bring a MicroSIM converter for longer visits, and StarHub’s 2GB bundle (valid for 60 days) is $37.

Your phone may automatically switch to a Malaysian network in northern Singapore near Malaysia (e.g. Woodlands, Sungei Buloh, Pulau Ubin), making a local call an international one or, worse, causing data costs to skyrocket. Before you call or browse, check the operational network (or switch to manual network selection).

Public phones are becoming more rare, although they may still be found at certain MRT stations. They’re either coin-operated pay phones (10 cents for a three-minute local call), card phones (with $3, $5, $10, $20, and $50 phone cards), or credit card phones. Phone cards are available through phonecard agents and all post offices. The majority of coin-operated pay phones are exclusively for local calls; however, some take higher value coins and may be used for international calls. Credit card phones are often seen at airports and large hotels.

To make an international call from Singapore, dial 001 (SingTel), 002 (M1), or 008 (StarHub), then the country code, area code, then the other party’s number. Providers have recently begun to offer lower prices for calls made through Internet telephony channels. The access codes for this cheaper service are 019 and 013 for SingTel and 018 for StarHub; if you want to utilize these services, make sure you use these numbers instead of the “+” sign at the beginning of the number.

Calling cards for particular foreign locations are also available, and these are typically less expensive. Singtel’s Hello Card provides a low-cost rate to eight countries (Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand).


Although there are a few Internet cafés on the island that charge about $2 per hour, they are not very popular since nearly everyone has broadband Internet connection at home, business, and/or school. If you need to go online, go to Chinatown or Little India, or check out the top floors of several suburban malls, which include Internet cafés that double as on-line gaming parlours. Alternatively, all public libraries  provide low-cost Internet access ($0.03/min or $1.80/hr), but you must first complete a registration process.

The first phase of the free [email protected] system is currently operational, and guests are welcome to use it for no charge, but they must first register and obtain a password by e-mail or mobile phone. A current list of hotspots may be found on the Infocomm Development Authority’s website. McDonald’s, which provides free Wi-Fi at most locations; StarHub, a member of the Wireless Broadband Alliance with hotspots in Coffee Bean cafes; and SingTel, which has hotspots at most Starbucks cafes, are commercial options. Roaming or prepaid charges are about $0.10 per minute.

Prepaid 3G/HSPA internet comes in a variety of flavors. Starhub MaxMobile offers a variety of options, ranging from S$2/hour to S$25 for 5 days of unlimited 7.2Mbit/s internet. S$12 for a SIM card. M1 Prepaid Broadband costs S$18/S$30 for three days/five days of unrestricted Internet access.

Mobile internet connection is also offered through several telcos, with packages ranging from hundreds of megabytes to several days’ worth of data. If feasible, though, attempt to use the free Wi-Fi connection; not only will it save you money, but it will also save you battery life.

Singapore’s internet censorship is less severe than in the Middle East or China, and international news sites like the BBC and CNN, as well as a handful of politically dissident websites, are openly accessible from the country. The Media Development Authority (MDA) is in charge of enforcing internet content regulations, and it has shut down over a hundred websites, the majority of which are pornographic. They’ve also demanded apologies or closures from bloggers, while some have been detained and charged with defamation. The “Remote Gaming Act” was enacted in October 2014 to regulate online gambling.

By mail

SingPost maintains offices all around the island, with hours ranging from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on weekdays, 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays, and 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Sundays The Post Office at Changi Airport T2 (transit side) is open everyday from 06:00 to 23:59, whereas the branch at 1 Killeney Rd is open till 21:00 on weekdays and 10:00-16:00 on Sundays. The service is prompt and dependable. A postcard to anywhere in the globe costs 50 cents, and postage labels may be bought at many MRT stations’ self-service SAM machines.

Airmail costs $3.50 per 100g for small packages up to 2 kg, whereas surface mail costs $1 per 100g. DHL may be able to provide reasonable prices for bigger shipments.