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Fourth telco hopeful MyRepublic attracts S$30m from investors

Indonesian telco Sunshine Network has invested S$20 million and French telecoms billionaire Xavier Niel S$10 million, says MyRepublic CEO Malcolm Rodrigues.

SINGAPORE: Local fibre broadband service provider MyRepublic, which hopes to become Singapore’s fourth telco operator, has raised more than S$30 million in funding from two investors, laying down the first bricks in its bold ambition to penetrate a sector dominated by three players.

Indonesian telco Sunshine Network, owned by conglomerate Sinar Mas, has pumped in more than S$20 million, MyRepublic CEO Malcolm Rodrigues told TODAY in an exclusive interview. French telecoms billionaire Xavier Niel, founder of French telco Free, has also invested S$10 million, he added. Mr Rodrigues said Sunshine Network is interested in adopting MyRepublic’s low-cost model and sharing its platform, while Mr Niel aims to piggyback off MyRepublic’s expansion to countries such as New Zealand and Australia.

“The Indonesians said, ‘We like your operating model, we think we can borrow that model and apply it to the Indonesian market,’” said Mr Rodrigues, adding that Sunshine Network is looking to share MyRepublic’s cloud-based platform, which will, in turn, lead to lower operating costs.

MyRepublic runs all its operations, including billing, customer service, accounting and sales management, on a cloud infrastructure.

“Both parties invested on the back of the next-generation broadband network story, which is their primary interest. But of course, they are also intrigued by our mobility plans,” Mr Rodrigues concluded, adding that discussions had begun about a year ago, with the money finally coming in in the third week of last month.

Last month, MyRepublic submitted a proposal to become Singapore’s fourth telco operator, after the Infocomm Development Authority requested public feedback on the allocation of spectrum and on ways to enhance mobile competition. The start-up has budgeted that it will need about S$250 million to set up a new mobile network. But as its proposal has yet to be approved, the investment from the two firms will go to the fibre broadband part of its business, marketing expenses and other areas, said Mr Rodrigues.

Beyond this, MyRepublic, which has been “disrupting” the market by offering a 1Gbps fibre broadband plan at only S$50 a month – a fraction of what the other telcos are offering – is keen to create even more waves by proposing a consolidation with other smaller players.

This controversial proposal will involve talking to three small retail service providers in the fibre broadband market, Mr Rodrigues revealed on Tuesday (July 8). “Our plan is to be disruptive. Their growths have been steady but there has also been no significant big growth,” he said.

Mr Rodrigues added that the three target firms have a largely business consumer base, complementing MyRepublic’s mainly retail consumer base.

The firm currently commands about 5 per cent of the broadband market, something that Mr Rodrigues is confident he can grow to about 7 to 8 per cent over the next three to four years. “We will revolutionise the economics of telcos. We think we can come in and build a low-cost delivery model. Traditionally, telcos need a 25 to 30 per cent market share to break even; I think we can do so at 10 per cent,” he said.

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