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MyRepublic signals intent to revive unlimited mobile data plans

The fourth-telco aspirant unveils its mobile plans, including an unlimited data plan at S$80 per month.

SINGAPORE: Fibre broadband provider MyRepublic, which has stated its intent to be the nation’s fourth telco, unveiled two mobile data plans for consumers on Wednesday (Mar 9).

The company said consumers will have to pay S$80 per month for the unlimited data plan, while there is also the option of 2GB for S$8 monthly.

As for current fibre customers, MyRepublic announced they will get 20 per cent off their monthly subscription if they sign up with the company between Oct 1, 2015, and Sep 30 this year. It had earlier announced that existing customers will get 12 months of unlimited data plans for free.

Consumers can indicate their interest on its website from Wednesday, the Internet service provider added.

Asked if the sign-up exercise is premature, considering it had yet to garner the requisite spectrum licenses to provide mobile services, a MyRepublic spokesperson said the sign-up is to gauge public interest and garner feedback.

“There will be no cash exchanged now since it’s not a pre-order. So if we don’t get the license, there’s no loss on the registrant’s end,” he said.

MyRepublic is not the only company eyeing a place as the fourth telco. OMGTel, owned by network provider Consistel, has also signalled its interest.

ANALYSTS SCEPTICAL

MyRepublic’s move on Wednesday sparked a retort by Consistel chairman Masoud Bassiri. Noting that further details of the bid are yet to be announced by the authorities, Mr Bassiri said: “It’s too early to make such promises.”

The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) announced on Feb 18 that it was paving the way for a fourth telco here, offering a lower starting bid price for aspiring new entrants for 60MHz of spectrum up for auction. The spectrum rights will start in April 2017, which is the earliest that any new player may begin services.

Mr Bassiri cautioned that promises of unlimited data must be taken with “a pinch of salt”, and specific details, such as the speed and locations covered under the plan, must be made clear. He added that there was a trade-off between “the amount of (capacity) and speed, and volume of data” a company can deliver.

Mr Bassiri was also puzzled by MyRepublic’s intent for announcing its price plans, which he said throws open an opportunity for the incumbent telcos to respond with their own price adjustments. MyRepublic said it hopes the proposed price plans will provide insight into the “different approach” it plans to take if it snags the bid to enter the market.

The company may also relook and tweak the plans where necessary in response to the feedback received should they win the bid, the spokesman added. “We want to ... (see) how will people take to it, what would they tell us, (and) what do they want.”

Telecommunications analyst Foong King-Yew felt it was premature for MyRepublic to announce its plans when details, such as the amount the winning bidder would have to fork out to enter the market, are not yet known. “(This) package could be very far away from the actual package that they would launch,” said the research vice-president for telecommunications at technology research firm Gartner.

Mobile plans that would set off a price war, he added, would not be “a wise move”, and new entrants should instead seek ways to be creative in their pricing and bundling strategies. “Existing players have more resources to react to any price wars,” he said.

In an interview with Bloomberg TV last month, Singtel Group CEO Chua Sock Koong had expressed concern that a fourth telco’s entry would drive the focus of the competition to pricing only and hurt the industry.

“The only way (a fourth telco) can gain customers will be by way of reducing prices ... The existing operators would look at how best to respond. Clearly just leading prices down, it’s not good for the sustainability of the industry,” she had said.