Singapore – Licensing Process for Issuing Multi-Service Authorizations

This Practice Note provides an overview of the licensing processes for issuing Facilities-Based Operator Licences and Service-Based Operator Licences in Singapore

Facilities-Based Operator (FBO) Licence[1]

Applicants for FBO Licences must submit three copies of its application to the Infocomm Development Agency (IDA), the regulator in Singapore, for evaluation.  Applications must include a table of contents and an executive summary that outlines the main points and salient features of the proposal, in addition to the information and documentation required to be submitted.  Applicants are required to pay an administrative fee to cover the cost of processing the application.

The IDA evaluates FBO Licence application on their merits.  The IDA has stated that it will take into account the following factors in its evaluation of the merits of an applicant’s proposal:

(a) vision of the applicant;

(b) organisational structure and financial capability and strength of the applicant;

(c) competition strategies of the applicant for the provision of services; technical   soundness of the applicant’s plans and technical capability to implement the plans;

(d) commitments of the applicant in fulfilling its vision and plans;

(e) technical plan and capability of the applicant; and

(f) any other information provided by the applicant.

The IDA has also stated that it will consider the benefits that the applicant will bring to the industry, to consumers, and to the Singapore economy as a whole.  These benefits are analyzed in terms of factors such as the investment in Singapore; enhancement of the telecommunications infrastructure, capacity, capability, and connectivity; level of technological and service innovation and responsiveness; the range and choice of service offerings; competitive pricing; the level of the quality of service and the level of customer service support; and resource limitations and physical constraints.

Applicants must submit a broad range of information and documentation in support of their applications.  For example, applicants must submit detailed information about its corporate governance structure, detailed business plans, financial plans and past performance, banker’s confirmation of deposits and/or available credit facilities, competition strategy, details about its network configuration, network facilities, interconnection arrangements, and network coverage, a network rollout plan, and evidence of its technical experience and capability, in addition to a range of other information and documentation.

The IDA may seek clarification and additional information from applicants.  Provided that the applicant has submitted all necessary information and documentation for evaluation and provided that the IDA has received all necessary clarifications, a successful applicant will usually be issued its FBO licence in eight weeks.  After receiving its authorization, if the licensee wishes to expand its operations beyond what has been specified in its application, it must apply to the IDA for permission.

Services-Based Operator (SBO) Licences[ii]

Applications for SBO (Individual) Licences and SBO (Class) Licences are made using an online business licensing service.  Applicants are required to submit prescribed information.  The IDA may seek clarification and further information from any party with respect to an application.

An SBO (Individual) Licence will be granted if the IDA is satisfied that the applicant will be able to deliver its proposed service and meet its commitments on quality of service standards.  Licensees must be a company incorporated in Singapore or a foreign company registered under the Singapore Companies Act.  Licensees are not subject to foreign equity limits.  Provided that an applicant for an SBO (Individual) Licence submits all required information and documentation, the applicant will be issued an authorization within fourteen working days of submitting its application.

The requirements for obtaining an SBO (Class) Licence are less onerous than the requirements for obtaining an SBO (Individual) Licence.  An SBO (Class) Licence will be granted if all required information as been provided.  SBO (Class) Licensees may be a company incorporated in Singapore, a foreign company registered under the Singapore Companies Act, or a Limited Liability Partnership.  SBO (Class) Licensees are not subject to any foreign equity limits. Provided that an applicant for an SBO (Class) Licence has provided all required information, the applicant will be notified within two to eight working days that its registration as a licensee has been recorded. [1] The information provided in this section is developed from: Infocomm Development Agency, FBO Licence (Licence Framework and Guidelines), version 3 (September 2007), available online at: http://www.ida.gov.sg/Policies%20and%20Regulation/20060419203000.aspx.

[ii] The information provided in this section is developed from: Infocomm Development Agency, SBO Licence (Licence Framework and Guidelines), version 5 (March 2008), available online at: http://www.ida.gov.sg/Policies%20and%20Regulation/20060419203000.aspx.

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