It’s said that the biggest fear one has it that of public peaking. For me, my biggest fear is not having cellular service, and not being able to connect while on the go.

So, how does one connect while in Singapore

Some quick tips to staying connected while on the go:
By phone The international telephone country code for Singapore is 65. There are three main telecommunication providers in Singapore: SingTel [87], StarHub [88] and MobileOne (M1) [89]. Mobile phones are carried by almost everyone in Singapore, including many young children, and coverage is generally excellent throughout the country. All 3 service providers have both GSM 900/1800 and 3G (W-CDMA) networks, and international roaming onto them may be possible; check with your operator before you leave to be sure. Prepaid SIM cards are sold in 7-Eleven convenience stores, phone shops and currency exchange counters, just bring your own GSM/3G phone or buy a cheap used handset in Singapore.

Singapore phone photo

Photo by jeremyfoo

You will need to show an international passport or Singapore ID to sign up. A local phone call costs between $0.05-$0.25 per min, whereas each local text message (SMS) costs about $0.05, with international SMS about $0.15-$0.25 (but a few dozen local SMS are usually thrown in for free when you top up). You may also be charged for incoming calls. Most prepaid cards expire within 6 mth unless you top-up (which can be done outside Singapore). The carriers also offer special top up cards that will give a higher number of minutes for the price at the downside of expiring more quickly. As in many places, mobile data with on prepaid voice SIM cards can be ridiculously expensive. StarHub offers a 1GB package (valid for 30 days). It costs $25 and is aimed at BlackBerrys but works with any phone. Using the StarHub SIM, call *122# and follow the menu to activate. Data-only SIMs can be more affordable. For short stays, StarHub has 2Mbps unlimited service at S$15 per week. For longer stays, bring a MicroSIM adapter and you can get StarHub’s 2GB package (good for 60 days) for $37.

Public phones are an increasingly endangered species, but you can find them in most MRT stations. They are either coin-operated pay phones (10 cents for a three-minute local call), card phones operated by phone cards in denominations of $3, $5, $10, $20 and $50, or cr card phones. Phone cards are available at all post offices and from phonecard agents. Most coin-operated pay phones are for local calls only, there are some which accept coins of larger denominations and can be used for overseas calls. Cr card phones are usually found at the airport or in some major hotels. To make an international call from Singapore, dial the access code 001 (for SingTel), 002 (for M1), and 008 (for StarHub), followed by the country code, area code and party’s number. Recently the providers have started offering cheaper rates for calls using Internet telephony routes. The access codes for this cheaper service are 019 and 013 for SingTel and 018 for StarHub, make sure you input these codes instead of the “+” sign at the beginning of the number if you wish to use these services.

Calling cards are also available for specific international destinations and are usually cheaper. Hello Card from Singtel offers a very cheap rate to 8 countries (Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand). By net Internet cafes charging around $2/hr are scattered about the island, but are not particularly common since almost all locals have Internet access at home, work, and/or school. Head to Chinatown or Little India if you need get online, or check out the top floors of many suburban malls, which feature Internet cafes doubling as online gaming parlors. Alternatively, all public libraries [90] offer cheap Internet access ($0.03/min or $1.80/hr), but you need to jump through registration hoops to get access.

The first phase of the nationwide free Wireless@SG system is now operating and visitors are free to use the system, although you must register and receive a password via e-mail or a mobile phone first. See the Infocomm Development Authority website [91] for a current list of hotspots. Commercial alternatives include McDonalds, which offers free wifi at most outlets; StarHub, a member of the Wireless Broadband Alliance with hotspots at Coffee Bean cafes; and SingTel, which has hotspots at most Starbucks cafes. Roaming or prepaid rates are on the order of $0.10/min. There are several options for prepaid 3G/HSPA internet. Starhub MaxMobile [92] has different plans from S$2/hour to S$25 for 5 days unlimited 7.2mbps internet. SIM costs S$12.

M1 Prepaid Broadband offers unlimited Internet access for three days/five days at S$18/S$30 [93]. Mobile internet access is also available from the different telecoms which offer hundreds of megabytes good for several days. However do try using the free WiFi access if possible; not only will it save you money but also precious battery life. By mail SingPost [94] has offices throughout the island, generally open 8:30AM-5PM weekdays, 8:30AM-1PM Saturdays, closed Sundays. The Changi Airport T2 (transit side) office is open 6 AM-midnight daily, while the 1 Killeney Rd branch is open until 9 PM weekdays and 10AM-4PM Sundays. Service is fast and reliable. A postcard to anywhere in the world costs 50 cents, and postage labels can also be purchased from the self-service SAM machines found in many MRT stations. Small packets up to 2 kg cost $3.50/100g for airmail, or $1/100g for surface mail. For larger packages, DHL [95] may offer competitive rates.

Other tips on staying connected while in Singapore? Please add your comments and tips.