SingTel launches first Taiwan venture

Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (SingTel) began operating in Taiwan Friday with the launch of a telecommunications service there call Sparq. The service will be run by New Century InfoComm Co. Ltd. (NCIC), in which SingTel is the second-largest shareholder with a 24.3 percent stake.

Sparq will initially target corporate and business customers with a suite of voice and data services including local, long distance and international calling, domestic leased circuits, broadband Internet access, calling cards, toll-free and collocation services, SingTel said in a statement.

Other services including frame relay and leased circuits will be launched by mid 2001 as network interconnections become ready. The current network of 150,000 lines took 10 months to complete and covers all of Taiwan’s major cities including Taipei, Kaohsiung, Taichung and Tainan. Customers have access to two Internet Data Centers (IDCs), one each in Taipei and Kaohsiung.

SingTel said it has set a first-year target of more than NT$5 billion (US$155 million) in revenue, or just over three per cent of a market estimated at NT$150 billion annually.

SingTel is the second-largest shareholder in NCIC after the Far Eastern Group, which has a 25.8 per cent stake.

SingTel has several relatively minor overseas ventures, in Belgium, Thailand and the Philippines, which now generate 12 per cent of the company’s profits. By 2005, SingTel wants to lift that figure to 25 per cent.

Last month, SingTel made a formal statement of interest in acquiring some of the assets of Australian telecommunications carrier Cable & Wireless Optus Ltd. (CWO). This will be SingTel’s biggest overseas venture by far if it succeeds.

SingTel, in Singapore, can be reached at