The Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) has announced Australian telco TPG Telecom Pte Ltd (TPG) as the fourth company to run mobile operator in the country.
TPG had outbid MyRepublic and AirYotta with the bid of S$105 million at the New Entrant Spectrum Auction (NESA).
IMDA said that TPG will be provisionally allocated 60 MHz of spectrum made available in the NESA, comprising 20 MHz in the 900 MHz spectrum band and 40 MHz in the 2.3 GHz spectrum band to provide International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) and IMT-Advanced services (e.g. 4G services).
It also said that the new spectrum rights are expected to commence on 1 April 2017 at the earliest. It noted that the actual commencement date of the spectrum rights will depend on when the General Spectrum Auction is completed.
To facilitate the entry of a new mobile network operator (MNO), IMDA said that it had set aside the 60 MHz of spectrum in the NESA that only pre-qualified prospective new entrant bidders may bid for. The entry of the new MNO is expected to enhance innovation and competition in the mobile market.
IMDA stated that TPG will be required to utilise the allocated spectrum to provide nationwide street level coverage for 4G within 18 months from the start of the new spectrum rights; road tunnels and in-building service coverage within 30 months from the start of the new spectrum rights; and coverage for MRT underground stations/lines within 54 months from the start of the new spectrum rights.
It also noted that it will next proceed with the second stage of the auction, the General Spectrum Auction (GSA), which will be open to the existing MNOs – M1, Singtel Mobile and StarHub Mobile. TPG may also participate in the GSA. IMDA aims to commence the GSA in the first quarter of 2017.
MyRepublic came in at second place at S$102.5 million. MyRepublic CEO Malcolm Rodrigues said in an official press statement, “Bidding S$105M and beyond simply did not support our vision and business case for mobility in Singapore.”
According to the MyRepublic press release, it was targeting to leverage “upon its existing fixed broadband operations to create a low break-even, fixed-mobile operator.” However, the bidding above S$105 million was not feasible for its current business model.
“We envisioned being part of a healthy ecosystem of four competitive operators — operators who would be spurred by a new entrant to support unlimited data-centric mobile service offers. At the current spectrum price, a new entrant must achieve a much higher market share to survive and be successful,” said Rodrigues.
Consumers may be disappointed for the loss of MyRepublic as it had pledged earlier to charge consumers as little as $8 a month for a mobile plan and $80 for an unlimited data plan. As a testament of how they would have change the telco landscape in Singapore, the existing telcos were spurred to offer discounts in plans when their pledge was first announced.
Perhaps this is yet another sorry story in Singapore about how the authorities just look at the money offered and not the other factors surrounding the bid.