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The Expat’s Guide to Singapore’s Internet Service Providers

Nun playing solitaire

Singapore has a wide range of Internet Service Providers. Assuming your definition of “wide” is “barely not a monopoly”. The scene is dominated by three big companies (M1, Starhub, Singtel), with the rest still battling for scraps. Singaporeans hop between them on a regular basis, depending on freebies and pricing policies. If you’re new to this country, here’s a primer so you can join in:

 

Things to Note Before Signing Up

Upon picking a service, you’ll have wait up to seven working days before you’re connected. Some areas might take longer, up to 15 working days.

As for fibre-optics, note that the service isn’t available everywhere. The government did try to hook us all up, but some condominiums protested. They didn’t want cables running everywhere and ugly-fying the place. Also, some old landed properties may have been bypassed, on account of their stone age infrastructure.

If you live in such areas, don’t worry. The pretty rooms should be a pleasure to stare at while pages load. Otherwise, check if fibre-optics are an option before moving in.

 

How Contracts Work

 

If you could just pretend to read this and sign here, sir?

 

In Singapore, most ISPs offer packages with 6 month or 24 month contracts. If you break the contract (cancel early), you’re liable to pay for the remaining months.

For example, say you have a 24 month contract that costs $40 a month. You decide to cancel the contract after 20 months. You’d have to pay a penalty of ($40 x 4 remaining months) = $160. There may also be other administrative costs, ranging from $40 – $60.

 

Choosing an ISP

For your convenience, we’ve highlighted the best deals (or so we think) in the following categories:

  • Best Premium Plan
  • Cheapest BroadBand Plan
  • Cheapest Fibre-Optic Plan
  • Flexible Contract
  • Best Speed

(Please note that information is accurate as of 27th November 2012)

 

1. Best Premium Plan

 

Does it come with Facebook? (Actually overheard at SITEX)

 

If you need a new laptop anyway, and have a big budget, check out StarHub’s MaxInfinity Platinum +MacBook Pro plan.

This is similar to StarHub’s MaxInfinity Platinum Fibre-Optic Plan, which has:

  • Up to 200 Mbps download speed
  • Up to 100 Mbps upload speed
  • Assured International Bandwidth of 25 Mbps
  • Corniest name ever devised for an Internet plan

MaxInfinity Platinum is usually priced at $102.93 per month.

With the MacBook Pro Plan, you also get a 13′ MacBook Pro, which retails for $1,688. That drives the price up to $128 a month, on a 24 month contract.

No, it isn’t cheap, hence the term best premium plan. But if you’re intending to get a new laptop anyway, this is a decent offer. It costs around $25 more per month than the standard plan, which over 24 months comes to about $600. That’s still under the retail price of the MacBook.

 

2. Cheapest BroadBand Plan

 

I had our engineers draw a technical diagram of this plan for you.

 

This counts as an Internet plan only in the way that foot-powered vehicle in the Flintstones counts as a car. But if you’re on a budget, then look for SingTel’s 6Mbps Cable BroadBand Plan.

The 6Mbps Cable BroadBand Plan features:

  • Up to 6 Mbps download speed
  • Up to 512 Kbps upload speed
  • Free 7.2 Mbps Mobile BroadBand Plan, which is hilarious because your mobile now beats your desktop

This plan costs $29.90 per month, on a 24 month contract. Carrier pigeons cost more to raise.

 

3. Cheapest Fibre-Optic Plan

This one is a tie, between M1 and SingTel.

The M1 Fibre BroadBand plan offers variable speeds. The slowest (and cheapest) option is a 25 Mbps fibre-optic connection, priced at $39 per month. The price then rises as follows:

50 Mbps – $49 per month

100 Mbps – $59 per month

150 Mbps – $79 per month

And so forth, up to a speed of 1,000 Mbps at Are You Insane dollars ($399) per month.

The M1 plan is on a 12 month contract. Depending on the flexibility you need, that may be a factor.

 

Why yes, we do have one last plan that’s even cheaper.

 

SingTel has next the cheapest offer, with a 150 Mbps Fibre BroadBand plan. This is priced at $49.90 per month. Apart from the listed speed, it includes a home phone line and 10 GB of online storage space.

The SingTel plan is on a standard 24 month contract.

So, which is cheaper? At 150 Mbps, SingTel wins hands down: It’s cheaper by $29 per month. And it comes with a home phone line.

But if you don’t mind 25 Mbps, M1 has the cheapest offer. And as I mentioned before, M1’s 12 month contract allows for a short term deal.

Pick the one that matters to you.

 

4. Flexible Contract

 

We DID give you a flexible contract. The stated price was really flexible.

 

MyRepublic and ViewQwest have the most “flexible” contract, on the basis of their not having one.

Yeah, that’s right: You can pay per month, and just leave whenever you feel like. This is a deal open to the first 100,000 subscribers of MyRepublic’s PURE plan. The plan offers:

  • 100 Mbps download speed
  • 50 Mbps upload speed
  • No limit for international bandwidth

The plan is priced at $59 per month.

ViewQwest’s Fibernet plans also come with “no contract” options. The prices vary based on speed required. For the purposes of comparison, we used the Fibrenet 100:

  • 100 Mbps download speed
  • 50 Mbps upload speed
  • No limit for international bandwidth

The plan is priced at $59.95 per month, giving a slight edge to MyRepublic.

 

5. Best Speed

 

Pictured: Someone responds to a comment about connection speeds.

 

Let me get my fire retardant underwear, for the inevitable flame war.

Amongst locals, there are growing murmurs that ViewQwest and MyRepublic are top performers. The argument is that local ISPs claim to have speeds exceeding 100 Mbps, but only for local sites. Go to a non-local site, and the cap is actually 25 Mbps.

ViewQwest and MyRepublic do away with this cap, and are thus faster.

However, ViewQwest and MyRepublic also represent alternatives to the triad of M1, SingTel, and Starhub. As such, some locals will tell you it’s hype, generated by rebels who want an underdog to root for.

End conclusion: The majority of the subscribers I spoke to agree on ViewQwest and MyRepublic being faster, so that’s what I’ll go with.

As shown in point 4, ViewQwest’s Fibernet plans offers speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps. Prices range from $59.95 per month (100 Mbps) to $499.95 per month (1,000 Mbps).

MyRepublic also has a Gamer package, which is a premium version of it’s 100 Mbps PURE plan. For $69 a month (no contract), MyRepublic has a team that monitors traffic to the game server, and allocates you to the right peering network. If you’re a gamer, go for it.

Image Credits:
epSos.de, nerdcoregirl, Yutaka Tsutano, ZTurtleMan, garryknight, x.Jason.Rogers.x,

Which ISP do you prefer? Comment and tell us why!

Ryan Ong

I was a freelance writer for over a decade, and covered topics from music to super-contagious foot diseases. I took this job because I believe financial news should be accessible and fun to read. Also, because the assignments don't involve shouting teenagers and debilitating plagues.

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