SINGAPORE: Internet service provider (ISP) MyRepublic aims to offer mobile services as soon as October this year via a tie-up with one of the three incumbent telcos - Singtel, StarHub or M1.
This is according to CEO Malcolm Rodrigues, who said during a press briefing on Thursday (Jul 6) that the partnership will allow the company to buy bulk airtime from one of the telcos instead of building out its own mobile network infrastructure. He, however, declined to name the telco it is partnering.
MyRepublic would, by doing so, become a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), like another service provider Circles.Life, which offers mobile services based off the capacity it leases from M1.
Mr Rodrigues said the plan to become an MVNO was always the plan, long before it put in an ultimately unsuccessful bid to become Singapore's fourth telco.
“We asked all the operators and they all told us to get lost, no, we’re not interested in MVNOs. A day after the license was awarded to TPG, we got a call from operators saying: ‘OK, we all have a common enemy now, it’s TPG, would you like an MVNO?’” he told Channel NewsAsia in an interview after the briefing.
Mr Rodrigues said the partnership would allow it to go after more segments of the market, which could help boost its market share. “In terms of new customers signing up, instead of 8 or 9 per cent, we can do 10 or 12 per cent, just because there are more people interested in maybe a bundled, broadband and mobility offer.”
More details can be expected in the next 60 days, he added.
Frost & Sullivan's industry principal for telecoms and payments strategy Quah Mei Lee said the move would likely contribute growth in revenue and, correspondingly, net margin to MyRepublic. This is because, despite the MVNO business model being low investment, low risk and low margins, the company's "thin operator" model and commitment to being disruptive would help grow its bottom line, Ms Quah said.
Bundling MVNO offerings with its broadband product would also add to "customer stickiness" as the growth in broadband here is contributed mainly by wireless broadband, the analyst said.
IPO EXPECTED IN 2018
Mr Rodrigues also took the opportunity to squash rumours of an impending takeover bid for M1, saying that MyRepublic had expressed interest, but quickly decided it was not the right fit. There had been reports at the end of May stating that the ISP was looking for a private equity partner to help fund a bid for the local telco.
“We’re a next-generation Internet platform focused on the telco industry, and they’re a traditional telco,” he explained.
The CEO said he wanted to set the record straight because the rumours were complicating MyRepublic's latest funding round, with some investors walking away because of the prospect of a big acquisition.
As for an initial public offering (IPO), the company said it is still keen and is eyeing a listing in Singapore, Hong Kong or Australia. This is expected to happen at the end of 2018, it added.