IDA will not free SingTel from all its ‘dominant licensee obligations’

4 Jun 2009

After 18 months of procrastination, Singapore’s national telecoms regulator the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) has decided not to give Singapore Telecom (SingTel) full exemption from a number of state regulations designed to rein in the dominant telco. The watchdog has dismissed four of seven appeals made by the operator concerning its efforts to secure full exemption from so-called ‘dominant licensee obligations’ relating to the provision of business telephony services. Under local competition laws, SingTel is subject to strict operating rules in areas where it is deemed to hold significant market power (SMP) in order to provide a ‘fair and non-discriminatory’ service to rival telcos.

SingTel made two appeal filings to IDA in October 2007. The first, a ‘customer segment request’ applied to corporate users whose annual spend on telecoms services exceeds SGD250,000 (USD173,500), while a second ‘market-based’ filing concerned six business telephony services. IDA finally published its decision this week after a raft of public and industry consultations lasting 18 months. In a letter to the Singapore operator, IDA deputy director-general of telecom and post Andrew Haire said: ‘SingTel’s request is far broader than its three previous exemption requests … If IDA were to grant SingTel’s request in its entirety, SingTel would be relieved from dominant licensee regulation for all telecommunication services it provides to government and business customers who spend at least SGD250,000 a year on telecommunication services.’ In its ruling, IDA decided to reject SingTel’s customer-segment request, but will grant it relief in three of the market segments for business services. The markets involved are the backhaul and terrestrial international private leased circuits (IPLC) segments, which Mr Haire said are now considered ‘effectively competitive’, and the regulator will continue to exempt SingTel in the international managed data services market. The IDA’s rulings are expected to enter into effect on 16 June.