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Beginner’s Guide on Starting a Telecommunications Business in Singapore

Starting a Telecommunications Business in SingaporeBack in the day, people sent smoke, fire signals, pigeons and snail mails, which were not the most reliable way of communicating. In the modern world, however, the telecommunications industry has developed rapidly over years, and even till today, it remains at the epicentre of growth. Telecoms has made globalisation possible. It has heavily influenced our society, culture and everyday lives. With state-of-the-art technologies, Singapore has braved its way and has become the international telecommunication hub – showing no signs of stopping! In this article, we see why starting a telecommunications business in Singapore is a great opportunity.

On a larger scale, the telecommunications industry can increase jobs for people everywhere, especially for those in the IT, engineering and communication sectors. Telecommunications is a vast industry, with various subsectors under it such as telephony, high bandwidth, data hosting, satellite and mobile telephony. These subsectors will need multi-talented people to work for them, subsequently creating work opportunities. Aside from that, many relevant businesses such as Infocomm product developers, network equipment providers, telecoms operators and data centres application developers would experience an expansion in their respective fields as well.

If you have a passion for telecommunications or see an excellent prospect for business and want to commercialise it, you have come to the right place. In this article, we will be exploring what it takes to start a telecommunications business, the licenses you need and most importantly, where you can find the right help. Want more on guides? Check out our guide to company registration in Singapore here!


What is a Telecommunications Business in Singapore?

A telecommunications business offers communication and data transmission and carrier services. Some examples of the services could include data, cellular, television and satellite networks. A very long time ago, telecommunications had a minimal definition, and that was to give landlines. Today, in a fast-paced world where people thirst for better and quicker technology, telecommunications has become limitless. As the advancement continues, we witness more types of subsectors in the telecommunications industry, like 5G, more reliable Artificial Intelligence (AI), cloud platforms, etc.

With Singapore’s goal of becoming the first Smart Nation in the world, the country has prepared information technology initiatives in three phases. Starting a telecommunications company in a place with world-class IT facilities and a conducive business environment like Singapore can significantly do wonders for your business.


Getting on With the Business Registration Process

First things first, you will need to register your telecommunications business with Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). ACRA is the official statutory body that facilitates corporate service providers, public accountants and business entities in the country. Registration creates transparency, legitimacy, and allows clients to verify company information.

Prior to registering with ACRA, you must establish several details regarding your company and how you will be running it. Aspects such as business structure, company’s name, directors and shareholders, official address and start-up capital should be clearly outlined before registration. Although the business registration process is straightforward, do not overlook the many sections in setting up a telecommunications business in Singapore.

Choosing a business structure requires much attention and research. Factors such as investment, number of owners, taxes rates, legal status, expansion, etc., need to be taken into consideration. Remember, the business structure impacts almost every part of your company. Therefore, you have to be absolutely sure before settling down on a business entity. You have the option to reach out to professionals and ask for their advice beforehand. Alternatively, you can engage with company incorporation services in Singapore to lend you a hand in delegating business matters.


Licenses You’ll Be Needing to Start a Telecommunications Business in Singapore

Telecommunications is a broad industry. As such, you will need a number of licenses. However, it all depends on your vision for the company and the services you choose to offer. Nevertheless, you need to pay close attention to a few components. The Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore, also known better as IMDA, is the body of interest.

Under the Ministry of Communications and Information, IMDA is responsible for regulating the infocomm and media sectors. IMDA is accountable for promoting a vibrant Infocomm ecosystem, encouraging innovation in the industry, and empowering society to utilise Infocomm in their everyday lives. According to the Telecommunications Act of 2000, you are legally required to possess a license to begin your business in telecommunication systems and services in Singapore. Some of the telecommunications services and their necessary licenses are as follows:

Fixed Line Services

These services refer to fixed-line systems. For example, optical fibres, cable ducts, submarine cables and satellite gateways. An alternate to radio systems, fixed-line services needs to be physically laid on land. Therefore, only licensed experts can carry out the process. The licenses for fixed-line services are as below:

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

Internet Acess Providers

Internet access providers install internet access in homes, offices, and schools etc. These services will need you to possess the following licenses:

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

Mobile Cellular and Radio Paging Services

These services make it possible for people to call each other through the phone. Sometimes, mobile cellular is what we refer to as having a ‘line’. On the other hand, radio paging services need a license to operate as well. Don’t be surprised; many people still use radio paging services – it’s highly useful in settings like hospitals, fire stations and restaurants.

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

Third-Party Telecommunications/ Value-Added Network Operators

Third-party telecommunications and private networks like value-added network (VAN) operators need  to acquire the following licenses:

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

Satellite Uplink and Downlink Services

Uplink and downlink services refer to the direction of the link transmission. Uplink means the transmission of the link that goes from the ground or earth station to a satellite. On the other hand, downlink implies that the transmission goes from a satellite to a receiver.  Both uplink and downlink services in satellite communication necessitate provider companies to gain the licenses below:

  • Satellite Communication Station License
  • Satellite Up-link/Downlink License for Broadcasting Purpose
  • Satellite Downlink License

Web Hosting Services

Web hosting services allow us to create our own websites for personal blogs, hobbies, or work purposes. Before you can run a web hosting service, you will need a few permits first.

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

Other relevant licenses include Telecommunication Dealers License, Localized Radio Communication License, Permit for Road Occupation Management, General Radio Communication License, Localized Private Network License may or may not be required. Do keep in mind that there are plenty of licenses that you may need to look into first and the ones stated above is not an exhaustive list.

For more information on acquiring licenses, you can check out Telecoms Licensing System (TLS). The licensing system will help you to narrow and filter the search for telecoms licenses. The system also allows users to locate documents relevant to the Licensing and Equipment Registration Guidelines, the Telecommunications Act and Regulations, and more. Plus, you can also settle your late payment fees and penalties through their ePayment service.

You can always reach out to your local corporate service providers to help you delegate matters on licensing. Based on your company services, they will prepare a list of licenses that you need to apply for. If you do it yourself, you will have to dedicate hours of studying and researching permits. On top of that, you need to make sure your permit applications are filled in correctly and submitted with the right documents. Needless to say, doing this by yourself is undoubtedly time-consuming. If you are looking for a high-quality and professional corporate service provider in Singapore, we can assist you with that.


Let Us Be of Service

Starting a telecommunications business in Singapore can truly be a lucrative field of business. Sure, the market is highly competitive, but if you execute your plans right, you may have just hit the jackpot. Unlike other companies, starting a telecommunications business will incur higher costs and capital. Therefore, it is crucial to set up the business properly. And that’s where we come in.

3E Accounting is your one-stop, go-to corporate service provider. Being Singapore’s leading corporate service provider, we have witnessed and solved various degrees of complex business and commercial affairs problems. Our firm consists of highly trained professionals in corporate, law, taxation and human resource, ever ready to assist you and your telecommunications business. With 3E Accounting, you can rest easy while handling the rest of setting up your company. Our packages and solutions come digitalised for every type of business. All you have to do is contact 3E Accounting, and we can get you started today!

Starting a Telecommunications Business in Singapore