Singapore to invest up to S$100 million to boost broadband network to 10Gbps; upgrade to start from mid-2024

Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo said the investments were about “future-proofing” the country as enhancing digital infrastructure does not “happen overnight”.

“I think a big part of it is ensuring that in the digital age, we are properly resourced, properly equipped,” said Mrs Teo.

“Because many of the ways in which digital developments will change our ways of working, ways of living, they’re not entirely known in advance. We just have to try and make a best effort as far as understanding what the trends are going to be and then make sure that our digital infrastructure is future-proofed.”

Even without knowing specific use cases, Singaporeans will likely see more immersive digital experiences, noted Mrs Teo.

“It will involve some additional smart devices, autonomous devices even, and of course we can all already recognize that the impact of AI will be quite pervasive. And there will be many ways in which it is … deployed and you want to be able to to benefit from that.”

Industry experts told CNA that 10Gbps network speeds would support the use of multiple devices in households, especially in applications that require higher data rates such as high-definition video streaming and online gaming.

As the fiber network is already capable of supporting 10Gbps services, investments will go mainly into network equipment that “lights up” the fiber, said IMDA. These include equipment at the back-end and end-user premises such as modem routers.

Equipment in homes will be part of service packages offered by broadband service providers.

Asked if the government would be involved in moderating the price points of 10Gbps services, IMDA said it would work with the industry to ensure competitive service offerings.

“Operators will be incentivized to sign up 10G services subscribers, they will have to ensure that their service offerings out there, whether it is a package or a bundle with end-user equipment, will have to be attractive enough such that the end users will sign up up,” said an IMDA spokesperson.


IMDA said Singapore’s past investments in the first-generation nationwide broadband network in 2006 laid the foundation for a reliable and high bandwidth connectivity infrastructure, supporting the rapid pace of digital transformation.

These early investments enabled the public and businesses to realize many of the benefits of digital technology currently in use.

“This was also evident during the COVID-19 pandemic where the nationwide broadband network allowed the whole of Singapore to seamlessly connect and continue to work and learn from home,” said IMDA.

Referring to the government’s decision in 2006, Mrs Teo said: “Already people said, well, we are quite happy with 30 megabits per second, what would be the need for 1Gbps? And yet, if we fast forward to today, 85 per cent of households have decided to subscribe to 1Gbps service or faster, which suggests that they found a use for it.”

Noting that it has been 18 years since the first investments, IMDA said it was timely to upgrade the infrastructure to ensure it remains “future-ready”.

Singapore is already working towards higher network speeds, with 10Gbps domestic connectivity a key priority in its Digital Connectivity Blueprint, unveiled last June. Some providers, such as StarHub, Singtel and MyRepublic, earlier launched 10Gbps broadband offerings.

Asked why there is a need to subsidize the cost of equipment given that some providers have seen demand for the 10Gbps services, IMDA said that service offerings currently were still “quite nascent” and limited.

“The price points are at the point where I think early adopters, tech-savvy ones would be interested, but maybe not the best,” said an IMDA spokesperson.

“So what we’re really doing is to accelerate the upgrade, bring it forward and support the industry in lowering the cost of investments, because today the 10G network equipment is still priced much higher than your 1G network.”

IMDA added: “Together with the roll-out of 5G mobile services and faster Wi-Fi networks, the 10G nationwide broadband network will provide more symmetric end-to-end 10Gbps connectivity. This will support maintaining Singapore’s global competitiveness and unlocking further economic opportunities .”

Principal Analyst Sam Fenwick at Opensignal, a global provider of connectivity insights, noted that even though 10Gbps fixed broadband is already commercially available here, new applications that actually require such a high speed may take a while to come.

“Developers typically work to produce applications that require technical parameters that are fairly easy to achieve with technology that’s currently in widespread use,” said Mr Fenwick.

“This means that Singaporeans may have to wait for much of the rest of the world to catch up before new applications that require 10Gbps connections come along.”

He stressed that speeds are just one part of the experience, with users also looking out for a network’s reliability and latency.

Telcos told CNA that they welcomed the government’s support.

M1 says the upgrade is in line with its efforts to “provide high speeds and low latency” with its 5G plans while SIMBA says it aims to bring benefits to consumers “at a very competitive price as soon as possible”.

Singtel Singapore CEO Ng Tian Chong said the telco supports efforts to make the technology more accessible to households, and will be reviewing the proposal.

StarHub said it continues to see a “steady increase” in the adoption of its UltraSpeed ​​10Gbps plans. Its plans include consumer equipment that can support the technology.

As the technology is relatively new, it may take some time for suppliers of such equipment to reach sustainable cost levels, a spokesperson said when asked about the challenges in its upgrading process.

“We continuously monitor the market development and aim to adopt a sustainable and accessible broadband pricing for Singapore households,” the spokesperson added.