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The basics
Singapore: Once you arrive - Must read

Setting up broadband and phone services in Singapore

Cable provide a simple guide for international students arranging broadband, internet and phone services once they've arrived in Singapore...

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Singapore is known as Asia’s Lion City, and with its fierce reputation as one of the world’s most prominent centres for business and trade, the city-state certainly lives up to its name. For international students looking to study economics and business, Singapore presents an opportunity that’s almost too spectacular to resist.

No matter where you’re staying during your time studying in Singapore, you’ll want to be able to connect with those back home to tell them all about your amazing experiences. We know it can be daunting setting up broadband and phone services when you’re in a foreign country, so to make the process as easy as possible, here is everything you need to know to get your telecom services up and running.


How do I get a mobile, landline or broadband deal in Singapore?

Before you sign up for mobile, landline or broadband, you’ll need an International Student Pass. This is required for the majority of services in Singapore, and is a legal requirement for foreign students studying in the country. You can apply through the Student's Pass Online Application & Registration (SOLAR) system. Applications are processed quickly, and you should have your Student Pass in less than ten working days.

If you’re staying in hostel accommodation within one of Singapore’s universities you may find that broadband and landline services are included as part of your rental payments. Outside of the university hostels, you’ll be required to set up and pay for your own telecom amenities. Broadband packages in Singapore usually require a deposit before services commence, and contracts commonly stretch to a full 24 months. Landline services are often included with your broadband contract, but can be taken alone. The main landline provider in Singapore is SingTel.


Who can I get broadband from in Singapore?

Thanks to recent government-led initiatives to promote internet connectivity, broadband access is widely accessible in Singapore. Along with widespread availability, Singapore boasts some of the fastest download speeds of any developed country, with rates of up to 1000Mbps from some providers.

There are dozens of home broadband providers to choose from in Singapore. The most popular are M1, SingTel, StarHub and Viewqwest. Packages cost between SGD30 (£15) and SGD400 (£190) per month depending on provider and download speed, and are subject to either 12- or 24-month contracts. Many broadband packages require upfront payments and deposits. These are to cover installation costs, equipment delivery and any future errors that may occur with your service.

If you prefer to study when you’re out and about, such as when you’re relaxing in Singapore’s botanical gardens or having lunch at the Maxwell Road Hawker Centre, then you can forgo home broadband in favour of a mobile broadband connection. Singapore’s 4G wireless network covers almost the entire country – great news for international students who like to wander – and can supply download speeds of up to 150Mbps to your laptop or mobile device. Mobile broadband plans are often more flexible too, and can be taken on contracts as short as six months. If you’re only intending to study in Singapore for a little while, then a mobile broadband plan may be the best way to get online.


What’s the best way for me to call home in Singapore?

When you arrive in Singapore it’s natural that the first thing you’ll want to do is ring home to tell your parents that you’ve arrived. The easiest way to do this is to use your existing mobile handset – but if you do, you might have to pay expensive international roaming charges.

International roaming fees vary depending on which provider you’re with and what country you’re travelling from. As there are no fixed regulations on roaming fees in Singapore, it can be costly to ring home using your mobile. For the short term, it’s a better idea to buy an international calling card. These cards allow you to ring landlines in your home country for a low per-minute price and can be purchased from a variety of shops and stores. You can often use international calling cards with your mobile. Some mobile providers may have restrictions on using international calling cards however, so be sure to check before you travel.

If you’re studying in Singapore for the long term, one of the best ways to save money when calling home is to join a Singaporean mobile provider. SingTel has mobile contracts tailored for making international calls and may be a good choice. You can also buy prepaid SIM cards to make local calls.

The cheapest way to call home is via Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) software, such as Skype. VoIP software works through your laptop or mobile device and can be used to make free international calls to other people using the same VoIP software.


What are my rights as a consumer in Singapore?

Any product or service purchased in Singapore is subject to the Singapore Lemon Law (no, really). This protects consumers from being saddled with inferior or defective goods – colloquially ‘lemons’ – and ensures that products such as mobile handsets and home broadband must meet high standards of quality and performance. Under the Singapore Lemon Law, if a product does not satisfactorily meet these standards, you can request a replacement or a refund. Your products and services are covered for up to six months after the date of purchase.  

If you have a complaint about your telecoms services, and your service provider has refused to help, you can contact Singapore’s Small Claims Tribunal. The SCT will deal with any disputes between yourself and the service provider. To strengthen your case, make sure that you have as much evidence (paper bills, records of phone calls) as possible.


Is there anything else I should know?

Singapore has a countrywide public Wi-Fi network (known as Wireless@SG) that any resident of Singapore can access through their smartphone or mobile computer for free. When you arrive in Singapore, you can register for a free account at any Wireless@SG hotspot. Once you’ve logged in you can browse the web as much as you like – though certain websites and services will be unavailable.



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