Singapore currently has three mobile operators, soon to be four:
- Singtel Mobile
- [TPG Telecom - to start in 2018/9]
Singtel is the market leader, Starhub is the second position, and M1 is the third. Coverage and speed is excellent in the city on all three networks. No 2G is available (see below), 3G on 900 and 2100 MHz, and 4G/LTE has started on all three providers on 1800 MHz (band 3) and 2600 MHz (band 7). 900 MHz (band 8) and 2500 MHz (band 41) were added, and from 2019 spectrum on 700 MHz (band 28) for 4G/LTE.
The coverage and speeds in this city state are supreme by all three providers. 4G/LTE covers all of the city outdoors and the MRT (= metro, subway). Note that for Singapore you'll need to bring a 3G/4G device as 2G is switched off (see below).
2G network switch off Edit
2G/GSM networks of all three providers were shut down on April 1, 2017. There is no 2G coverage anymore. So bring a 3G or 4G/LTE capable device. The sale of 2G-only mobile devices has been banned from January 2017 or retailers could be given a penalty. Licenced dealers will still be allowed to continue selling such devices, but only for export or overseas use.
In 2016, the first MVNO started in the country with Circles.Life on the M1 network. In 2018, new MVNOs were starting up with Zero Mobile and Zero1 (both on Singtel network) and MyRepublic (on StarHub network). They all started a price war in the city state, but are only selling rolling contracts so far and are not accessible to foreign visitors and to foreign residents only under certain conditions mentioned at the end of this article.
4th operator: TPG Telecom Edit
In 2016 the bidding auction for a 4th operator was started. The winner was named in December with TPG Telecom from Australia, founded by billionaire David Teoh. It will be provisionally allocated spectrum in the unusual 900 MHz and 2300 MHz (bands 8 and 40) to provide only 4G/LTE services starting in 2018/9. As per the terms of the licence award, TPG Telecom will be required to utilise the allocated frequencies to provide nationwide street level coverage for 4G within 18 months from the start of the new spectrum rights, with road tunnels and in-building service coverage within 30 months, and coverage for MRT underground stations and lines within 54 months from the start of the new spectrum rights.
In Singapore you have to show a photo ID to purchase a SIM card for registration - for foreigners that means your original passport (a photocopy is not acceptable). This can be done at any 7-Eleven or Cheers branch and takes some minutes. Be aware that you will be charged for incoming calls too in Singapore, like in the US, if they aren't included in your plan.
The lowest priced starter packs of the three providers for S$5 or S$8 are hard to find. You won't certainly get them at the airport where only their S$30+ packages are offered, and they are rarely sold downtown. The best place to find a S$5-S$8 starter is in Little India district in the small shops along Seragoon Rd. and around Mustafa Centre, where they are always 'on promotion' and heavily marketed, or in Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre, where you'll have to specifically ask for them. As many travellers stay only for a very limited time in town, they might be the better choice for them.
Roaming options Edit
Going to another country in SE Asia, note that all operators offer roaming data in many SE Asian countries and even Australia at the rather pricey Singaporean rates. This might be an option, if you stay only for a short time, travel different countries and don't want to buy a local SIM in each of them.
The operators heavily advertize data roaming on Singapore Airlines and some other airlines in-flight mobile networks. Unfortunately, this is available only to postpaid customers and hence not accessible to foreigners and therefore not mentioned any further.
Singtel Mobile by the Singtel Group is the biggest provider in town and has a market share of about 45 %. The Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. is one of the largest mobile network operators in Southeast Asia.
It has a coverage of 99% for 3G and 4G/LTE: Singtel 3G 4G coverage map. 2G/GSM has been shut down in April 2017. 4G/LTE is on 900, 1800 and 2600 MHz, bands 3, 7 and 8.
Their prepaid product is called "hi!card" and sold in very different start-up packs which are now all on 4G/LTE too. They are available at retailers like Singtel stores (locator), 7-Eleven, Sheng Siong Supermarkets, Cheers, SingPost and other authorized dealers, except those SIM cards mentioned below, that are only sold at Changi Airport.
- S$ 8: with S$ 10 credit valid for 90 days and 1.5 GB for 30 days - see remarks in the Basics section
- S$ 15: with S$ 15 credit valid for 120 days and 1 GB data (all time), 2 GB (12am-8am), unlimited WeChat, WhatsApp and Line for a year
- S$ 20 data card: with 5 GB of data valid for 7 days, in mini, micro and nano size, no voice ore text included
- S$ 38: with S$ 38 credit valid for 180 days and 1 GB valid for 7 days, in mini, micro and nano size, available at Changi Airport and retailers
- S$ 50: with S$ 50 credit valid for 180 days and 5 GB data valid for 7 days, in mini, micro or nano size, available exclusively at Changi Airport.
You may notice that you can't get the best deals at the airport (their outlet is at RHB Bank Currency Exchange counters), better go to a Singtel shop in town Singtel Store Locator or a postal office or for the best promotions around at Little India. The SIM card is valid for 4 months after activation without top-up.
Top-ups can be made with hi!top-up cards sold all over town in the stores mentioned above and at 7-Eleven, Cheers, Sheng Siong Supermarkets, Shop N Save, Caltex service stations, SPC, AXS Stations, DBS, POSB and OCBC ATMs (with local cards only), iNETS Kiosks, Kopitiam foodcourts. SAM, SingPost among others. You can check your balance by dialing *139#. These top-up cards are available:
- S$ 10, value S$ 11.50 valid for 90 days, free incoming calls for 10 days
- S$ 20, value S$ 23 valid for 180 days, free incoming calls for 20 days
- S$ 50, value S$ 57.50 valid for 120 days, free incoming calls for 20 days, available only at Changi Airport and SingTel shops
- S$ 15 bonus card, value S$ 30 for calls and texts only, no data, valid for 30 days
- S$ 22 datatalk card: value S$ 12 international calls, 250 MB data, 120 local minutes voice, free incoming calls and 500 local SMS valid for 30 days
- S$ 28 superhot card: value S$ 28 for internat. calls and texts and S$ 100 for local calls and texts, valid for 50 days
Alternatively, Singtel offers top-up through any of their pay phones with minimum top-up at S$2. Prepare exact amount of coins. Top-up instructions are stated on top of their pay phones.
Enter *100*1# to check your card balance and expiry.
Default data rate Edit
Their standard data rate outside of packages is 5.4c per 10 KB if you've started with a S$ 8 hi! card and 2.7c per 10 KB if you've started with a more expensive hi!card. It is recommended to buy data packages.
Data feature packsEdit
Singtel features normal data plans and app specific plans. To activate any data plan dial *100#, call *363 for free or access http://www.singtel.com/hi (free). Laptop users send an SMS with '1' to 727050. The plans don't renew themselves automatically and you have to resubscribe. If you don't (re)subscribe to a plan or used all your included data you pay the default rate (see above).
|2 GB||24 hours||S$ 7|
|6 GB||3 days||S$ 16|
|10 MB||7 days||S$ 1|
|100 MB||S$ 2|
|1 GB||S$ 7|
|1.5 GB||S$ 10||750 MB 12am-8am|
|15 GB||S$ 30|
|1 GB||30 days||S$ 10|
|1.5 GB||S$ 13||750 MB 12am-8am|
|3 GB||S$ 20|
|4 GB||S$ 25||750 MB 12am-8am|
|5 GB||S$ 30|
|1 day||7 days||30 days|
|S$ 0.50||S$ 3||S$ 6||no voice or video calls, max. 1 GB/day|
|Line||S$ 1||S$ 6||S$ 12||including voice and video calls, max.1GB/day|
|S$ 0.50||S$ 3||S$ 6||no voice or video calls, max. 1 GB /day|
|S$ 1||S$ 4||S$ 8||no voice or video calls, max. 1 GB /day|
Roaming offers Edit
For roaming in other Asian countries/regions, they offer these Ready Roam packages, booked through their app:
- S$ 5: 1 GB for 30 days in Malaysia (Maxis)
- S$ 12: 1 GB for 30 days in Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines and Thailand.
- S$ 20: 1 GB for 30 days in Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
Tourist SIM card Edit
Singtel released a tourist SIM called hi!Tourist SIM. It comes in three sizes:
- S$ 15: 100 GB 4G data, free use of Facebook, WhatsApp, Line and WeChat (all max. 1 GB), 500 mins local calls and 100 local SMS, 30 mins international calls, all valid for 7 days
- S$ 30: 100 GB 4G data, free use of Facebook, WhatsApp, Line and WeChat (all max. 1 GB), unlimited local calls and SMS, 90 mins international calls, 2GB roaming for Australia, Malaysia and Indonesia, Free Singtel Wifi, all valid for 12 days
- S$ 50: For a twin card (2 SIM cards), allowances will be shared between the main line and the supplementary line. 100 GB 4G data, free use of Facebook, WhatsApp, Line and WeChat (all max. 1 GB), unlimited local calls and SMS, 90 mins international calls, 5GB roaming for Australia, Malaysia and Indonesia, all valid for 14 days
Note, that international SMS are not included. They are available at Singtel Shops, exclusive retailers, at all terminals of Changi Airport, at selected 7-Eleven and Cheers and ferry terminals and causeway points. These cards may be extended by accessing Singtel site at $3 per extra day, adding 5 min international calls, 500 MB of data, 100 local SMS, 100 min local calls each day.
More info Edit
- APN: hicard
- Website: http://info.singtel.com/personal/phones-plans/mobile/singtel-prepaid
- Download the FREE Singtel hi!App app to manage your hi!card!
StarHubEditStarHub by local StarHub Ltd. is the 2nd provider in Singapore giving good speeds and coverage in 3G and 4G/LTE reaching a nationwide coverage. StarHub is the local partner of Vodafone and the only provider of HD Voice. 2G/GSM has been shut down in April 2017. 4G/LTE is on 1800, 2100, 2500 and 2600 MHz, bands 1, 3, 7 and 41.
Their prepaid product is called "Happy Prepaid SIM" and sold in these different start-up packs in mini or micro sizes:
- for S$ 8 with S$ 10 credit valid for 90 days and 800 MB data for 30 days - see remarks in the Basics section
- for S$ 15 with S$ 15 credit valid for 180 days and 2.2 GB of data for 180 days, free WhatApp, Line, WeChat
- for S$ 50 with S$ 50 credit valid for 180 days and 100 GB for 10 days and 5 GB roaming data for 30 days, sold exclusively at UOB Foreign Exchange at Changi Airport
Their SIM card is valid for 4 months after activation without having made a top-up. You may need to place a first call to activate data on the voice & data plans.
Their top-up cards are sold all over town in convenience stores mentioned above and direct top-ups at OCBC and POSB ATMs (local cards only) amongst others:
- S$ 10 with S$ 10 credit, valid for 120 days
- S$ 17 with 200 MB, 120 local mins and 500 local SMS, free incoming calls for 30 days,
- S$ 20 with S$ 23 credit valid for 180 days, free incoming calls for 20 days
- S$ 25 with S$ 10 credit, 400 MB, 120 local mins, 500 local SMS, free incoming calls for 50 days
- S$ 30 with S$ 34.50 credit valid for 180 days, 10 MB data, free incoming calls for 20 days
- S$ 50 with S$ 57.50 credit valid for 180 days, 10 MB data, free incoming calls for 20 days
Alternatively, top-up online by credit card or Happy prepaid app. To check balance and to see your phone number dial *113#.
Data feature packs Edit
Default data is 4c per 10 KB.
These data packages are offered:
|30 MB||3 days||S$ 2|
|1 GB||S$ 6|
|1 GB||7 days||S$ 8|
|1 GB||30 days||S$ 11|
|3 GB||S$ 18|
|5 GB||S$ 25|
To subscribe or check balance type *123# and follow instructions. Unlike social media plans, general data plans do not auto renew. Validity of the data plan can be extended by subscribing another data plan before expiry.
Happy Roam: Roaming offer Edit
Starhub offers roaming data in 17 countries for domestic rates called Happy Roam both on voice & data as well as data-only SIM card. You need to have bought a valid domestic (Singaporean) data plan before (see above). Android users may need to change their APN to 'shppd', iOS users need to download here a roaming profile and install it. You may need to activate roaming by *123*333# before.
Thus, you can simply use your domestic Singaporean data package abroad, including the data bonus given for top-ups. The data that comes with SIM card activation doesn't apply. This is the cheapest roaming option in Singapore together with M1 right now.
Check data balance by *123#. If you are using more, you will pay the domestic default rate. Happy Roam normally connects to overseas network with max 3G speed. These countries/regions and networks are covered:
|Australia||Telstra | Vodafone||China||China Mobile|
|Canada||Rogers Communications||India||Bharti Airtel | IDEA | Vodafone|
|Hong Kong||Three (3)||Indonesia||XL Axiata | Three (3) | Indosat|
|Japan||NTT DoCoMo | KDDI||Macau||CTM Macau|
|Myanmar||MPT | Telenor||Malaysia||all operators|
|New Zealand||2Degrees | Spark NZ||Philippines||Smart|
|South Korea||SK Telecom | Olleh KT||Taiwan||Far EasTone (FET) | Chunghwa Telec.|
|Thailand||TrueMove | DTAC||UK||Three (3)|
|USA||AT&T | T-Mobile|
Data-only SIM: Prepaid Internet SIM Edit
Furthermore, they sell a data-only SIM called Prepaid Internet SIM in all sizes for data and text only, no voice. Start-up price is S$ 18 with 2 GB data valid for 5 days or S$ 32 with 2 GB for 15 days. Speed is throttled to 7.2 Mbps. These top-ups are available either online or by top-up card:
- S$ 6: 2 GB for 1 day
- S$ 16: 6 GB for 3 days, max. 2 GB per day
- S$ 25: 14 GB for 7 days, max. 2 GB per day
- S$ 28: 2 GB for 30 days
- S$ 32: 3.5 GB for 60 days
Subscription is on your online Internet SIM account. No internatl. roaming on this SIM.
Tourist SIM card Edit
They sell a Travel Prepaid SIM card aimed at tourists in two denominations:
- S$ 12: 100 GB local data, 1 GB roaming data in Happy Roam countries (see above), 30 mins IDD calls through 018, 100 local SMS, 500 mins local calls and unlimited incoming calls for 7 days
- S$ 32: 100 GB local data, 3 GB roaming data in Happy Roam countries (see above), 90 mins IDD calls through 018, 500 local SMS, 3000 mins local calls and unlimited incoming calls for 12 days
Regular top-ups can be added for more volume and Happy Roam packages can be added as well for foreign use.
More info Edit
- APN: shwap /or/ shinternet
- Website: http://www.starhub.com/personal/mobile/prepaid-plans.html
- Manage your plan including topping-up with your credit card with the Happy Prepaid App
M1 (formerly MobileOne)Edit
M1 (previously known as MobileOne) is the 3rd largest national provider in Singapore. Coverage on 3G and 4G is on par with the other two providers. All 2G/GSM has been shut down in April 2017.
M1 has launched its 4G/LTE service for prepaid in 2013 activated on every SIM card automatically or by #100*3*3#. 4G/LTE is on 1800 and 2600 MHz, bands 3 and 7.
Their prepaid product is called "M Card" and sold in different start-up packs in mini, micro and sometimes nano size:
- for S$ 5 with S$ 5 credit and 500 MB of data valid for 20 days - see remarks in the Basics section.
- for S$ 15 with S$ 15 credit and 2 GB of data valid for 120 days
The S$ 15 is sold at M1 shops (M1 shop locator), their exclusive distributors, authorised money changers and retailers, 7-Eleven, Cheers, Fairprice Xpress, SingPost among others. The S$ 5 SIM card can be found at small one-man mobile booths in places like Chinatown and Little India. Their SIM cards have the longest validity of all Singaporean providers. It will be valid for 180 days from the day of activation without topping up. To extend validity, they offer add-ons for 60 days at S$ 0.99, for 90 days at S$ 1.40 and for 180 days at S$ 2.40 by *100*6*2#.
For data to work, you need to place a first call for activation after putting in the new SIM or go to *100*3# and activate.
Their top-up cards are sold all over town in convenience stores mentioned above and electronic top-ups at AXS stations and SingPost with a bonus amongst others:
- S$ 5 valid for 60 days
- S$ 18 with S$ 21 value, free incoming calls within 20 days, valid for 180 days
- S$ 19 with 1 GB data, S$ 5 for IDD calls, 500 mins, 500 SMS, free incoming, valid for 30 days
- S$ 30 with 3 GB data, S$ 10 for IDD calls, 1000 mins, 1000 SMS, free incoming, valid for 30 days
Check balance with #100*2*1#.
Data feature packsEdit
Standard rate outside package is 0.7c per KB. Their data packs are called 4G data plans:
|100 MB||3 days||S$ 2|
|1 GB||S$ 5|
|10 MB||7 days||S$ 1|
|1 GB||S$ 7|
|2 GB||S$ 10||+|
|300 MB||30 days||S$ 5|
|1 GB||S$ 10|
|2 GB||S$ 14||+|
|4 GB||S$ 21||+|
|6 GB||S$ 28||+|
(+) = these plans include free incoming calls for the duration of the package
To activate type *100*3*1# or do it on your online account. Packages don't auto-renew. Multiple subscriptions are allowed and the remaining data will be rolled over as long as another subscription is made before the current plan expires. Maximum data balance for prepaid plans is up to 4 GB at any given time. Any data usage in excess of the bundled data will be charged at the default rate.
Roaming offer for SE Asia Edit
Like Starhub M1 offers cheap data roaming at domestic rates without surcharges, but in fewer countries/regions so far:
- in Hong Kong, Macau (both SmarTone), Indonesia (XL Axiata), Malaysia (Celcom), Taiwan (Chungwha):
- 1 GB for 3 days: S$ 5
- 1 GB for 7 days: S$ 7
- 1 GB for 30 days: S$ 10
- additionally in Australia (Telstra), Bangladesh (Robi), Cambodia (Smart), Sri Landa (Dialog), Thailand (dtac), UK (Vodafone), US (AT&T): 2 GB + 10 mins for 10 days: S$ 15
All purchases are deducted from your M Card balance. To activate package dial *100*3*1#, to activate a net lock to the discounted networks dial *100*8*1#
Tourist SIM Card Edit
Their prepaid tourist card is sold in two different offers:
- S$ 12: including 100 GB data, free incoming calls, 20 mins international. calls, 500 mins local calls and 100 local texts, all valid for 7 days
- S$ 30: including 100 GB data, free incoming calls, 50 mins intern. calls, 3000 mins local calls, 5000 texts and 3 GB roaming data, all valid for 12 days.
- S$ 50: including 100 GB data, free incoming calls, 50 mins intern. calls, 3000 mins local calls, 5000 texts and 5 GB roaming data, all valid for 14 days.
It's available in mini, micro and nano size at any M1 shop (see shop locator above) or in all three arrival halls at Changi Airport. Roaming data in the S$ 30 and 50 plans are for use in Hong Kong (SmarTone), Indonesia (Indosat/XL Axiata), Macau (SmarTone), Malaysia (Celcom) & Taiwan (Chunghwa Telecom) only.
More Info Edit
- APN: sunsurf
- Website: https://www.m1.com.sg/personal/mobile/prepaidmobile/mcard
- Download the app to manage your M Card! https://www.m1.com.sg/personal/mobile/prepaidmobile/prepaid-account
MyRepublic, Zero Mobile, Zero1, Circles.Life Edit
MyRepublic launched its long-awaited MVNO in June 2018 on the StarHub network. The telco lost out to Australia-based TPG Telecom in its bid to become Singapore’s 4th MNO in 2016. Up to 2018 they only offered Gigabit fixed broadband connectivity via the city-state’s optical fibre Next Generation National Broadband Network. In May 2018 they unveiled their first mobile plans Uno and Ultimate exclusively available to registered supporters of its mobility bid and broadband customers.
In June 2018 they issued their first plans Smart, Mega and Extra open for the general public. We can't display MyRepublic here as it's not prepaid and their requirements ban most visitors from subscribing and can only be a viable option for longtime residents.
Foreigners need to show a proof of billing address, if there is no local address stated on ID. Accepted documents are: Legal Tenancy Agreement, Insurance Policy Statement (except travel insurance),Latest available bank/ credit statement, Singapore Power Bill Statement, CPF Statement, a letter from company (signed by managerial position and above) indicating the company-owned / leased / rented properties / customer's residential address or a letter from school (signed by principal) indicating the customer's residential address.
It's even harder with Zero Mobile and Zero1, new MVNOs on the Singtel networks and Circles.Life on M1 network. They only offer rolling contracts on a postpaid billing basis. For all three of them you need a Singaporean ID (NRIC), Employment Pass, 11B, S-Pass, Student Pass, Work Permit, Dependant Pass or PEP and a Singapore billing address. They don't accept any foreign or local passports.