Singapore mobile base drops in August due to new pre-paid SIM rules and rising subscription rates

26 Nov 2014

According to data published by Singapore’s industry regulator, the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), the total number of mobile phone connections (2G, 3G and 4G) in the city-state fell to 8.229 million at end-August from 8.421 million at 31 December 2013. The Straits Times notes that the fall in mobile lines puts an unexpected brake on the solid growth seen in the country in recent years – the total base has doubled from four million in 2005 – and attributes the fall to the introduction of more stringent rules on multiple pre-paid SIM card ownership and rising mobile subscription rates. In April this year, IDA implemented a new law limiting the maximum number of SIMs per person from ten to three, arguing that it needed to address a rising tide of illegal activities and unlicensed moneylending being carried out under the cloak of anonymity afforded by PAYG phones. Prior to the law’s introduction, the IDA reported a total mobile base of 8.43 million boosted by the sale of 700,000 pre-paid 3G lines. Moreover, consumers are feeling the effects of cellcos’ price rises – precipitated by SingTel Mobile which in August this year raised its entry-level plan to SGD42.9 (USD32.9) from SGD39.9. StarHub and M1 followed suit a month later – upping their basic plans by SGD5 (to SGD42.9) and SGD2 (SGD41.0) per month, respectively. Adding to the pressure on consumers, all three have almost doubled excess mobile data usage fees since January.