Singapore’s largest telecoms operator, Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel), yesterday announced that its total mobile subscriber base in Asia had reached 40.8 million at the end of September 2003, rising by 9.1% in the three month period, and by 41% year-on-year. The company said that most of the growth came from its overseas units, as it faces an increasingly saturated market at home; the mobile penetration rate in Singapore stood at 80.1% at the end of June 2003. SingTel holds stakes in Australian subsidiary SingTel Optus, as well as Thailand’s Advanced Info Service (AIS), India’s Bharti Group, Globe Telecom of the Philippines and Indonesia’s PT Telkomsel. It has invested around SGD17 billion (USD9.67 billion) in its foreign affiliates over the last four years, particularly concentrating on high growth markets such as India and Indonesia.
At the end of September SingTel Optus registered 5.07 million mobile subscribers, an increase of 17% from last year despite intense competition in the Australian market, while its mobile associates in Thailand, India, the Philippines and Indonesia expanded their total subscriber base by 49% to 34.2 million in the same period. In Singapore, SingTel saw its subscriber base fall by 0.1% to 1.52 million in the three months to the end of September, although it grew by 0.2% from a year earlier, despite concerns about the entrance of mobile number portability (MNP) to the market in August.