MyRepublic Is Back, But Which Big 3 Telco Will It Tie Up With?
Many netizens were rooting for MyRepublic to clinch the deal to become Singapore’s 4th telco back in October last year.
After all, most of us were adapting to having our mobile data slashed from 12GB to 2GB when we upgraded to the 4G network. When the telco claimed it could offer unlimited data for only $80 per month, many Singaporeans could scarcely believe their eyes.
And that’s not even the best part — MyRepublic went as far as to promise early-bird customers a whole 12 months’ worth of free, unlimited data.
Alas, the hopes of a nation were dashed when Australian-based telco TPG Telecom won the bid to become Singapore’s 4th telco in mid-December last year.
It appears, however, that MyRepublic has recovered and is set for a massive comeback.
In a briefing held yesterday (July 6), chief executive officer Malcolm Rodrigues announced that his company will begin offering mobile services here as early as October this year.
Its initial competitor, TPG, will only begin its operations in 2018. Talk about irony.
Things are certainly looking up for MyRepublic, who just unveiled plans for an initial public offering in 2019. There were even rumours about them buying over fellow telco M1, although its management has since publicly denied those speculations.
But how were they able to re-enter the Singapore telecoms market in a mere matter of months after their failed bid?
Instead of purchasing its own mobile airwaves through auctions held by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), MyRepublic decided to apply to become a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) instead.
The licence would allow the company to buy airtime in bulk from one of the Big 3 telcos — Singtel, StarHub and M1 — instead of investing in its own costly, mobile networks.
Big 3 Partnership
According to Mr Rodrigues, MyRepublic received offers from the Big 3 to tap into their infrastructure just 2 days after being outbid by TPG Telecom.
However, he declined to reveal which telco he will be partnering with, leaving us in suspense.
Anyway, it appears such an arrangement will be mutually beneficial for all parties:
The objective is make it as difficult as possible for TPG to be successful.
Circles.Life, perhaps best known for its “20GB for $20” campaign, is Singapore’s only operational MNVO at the moment.
No Longer Unlimited?
However, MyRepublic appears to have backtracked on their plans of offering unlimited mobile data, a key selling point the company had been trumpeting as it held a mobility trial in 2015:
The telco’s bold claims definitely ruffled some feathers when they were first announced. Singtel Group CEO Chua Sock Koong claimed MyRepublic’s entry would “drive the focus of the competition to pricing only and hurt the industry”, adding that such price cutting was unhealthy for the “sustainability of the industry”.
It also prompted a retort from OMGTel, a company formed by local tech firm Consistel to challenge MyRepublic and TPG Telecoms in the IMDA spectrum auction.
Consistel chairman Masoud Bassiri warned that claims of unlimited data must be taken with a “pinch of salt” and that there was a trade-off between “the amount of (capacity) and speed, and volume of data” a company can deliver.
OMGTel was later disqualified from the bidding as they failed to meet IMDA’s requirements.
According to Mr Rodrigues, however, MyRepublic is still promising its customers “generous” data plans.
We are going to try, I don’t think we can do unlimited… But we would be able to dramatically shift the amount of data available at current prices.
When pressed for more details about the upcoming plans, Mr Rodrigues declined to disclose more information, before stating that his company will announce something “different” from the current telco offerings in “4 to 6 weeks”.
Prior to its failed bid, MyRepublic released its pricing for its limited data plans. A 2GB plan will set users back by $8 per month, with every GB of excess data used costing an additional $8. Existing and new broadband customers would only have to pay $6 for the same plan.
Ever wondered how our 1 GBPS fibre broadband connection came to cost only around $50 per month?
In January 2014, MyRepublic surprised the industry and launched its 1GBPS plan for $49.90. While it might sound like the norm these days, the Big 3 were charging upwards of $395 — eight times more than MyRepublic — for the same packages back then.
A price war broke out and prices soon levelled across the board.
As illustrated above, increased competition will only benefit customers. With the 3-way monopoly well and truly broken — there will now be 6 mobile network operators in Singapore — we can’t wait for cheaper plans and better customer service in the face of an increasingly competitive telecoms landscape.
Featured image from Facebook