StarHub once again reaches out to help OpenNet

29 Mar 2012

The Straits Times reports that Singaporean telco StarHub has reached out to offer help to OpenNet, the company responsible for the building of Singapore’s Next Generation National Broadband Network (NGNBN). The telco is proposing to act as a sub-contractor to help OpenNet speed up the rollout of fibre services to homes and businesses in the wake of complaints over delays in connecting users. The move reportedly follows StarHub finding out that network builder OpenNet’s current contract with SingTel is not exclusive. Until now, OpenNet – a consortium of Axia-NetMedia, SingTel, SP Telecommunications and Singapore Press Holdings – has been using SingTel as its main contractor to roll out and activate connections for the NGNBN.

Last month however, CommsUpdate reported that the city-state’s telecoms market regulator, the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), is looking to intervene in a bid to speed up the pace of deployment of the nationwide broadband network. In the wake of a review started in December 2011, the watchdog has highlighted a number of areas where OpenNet is failing – such as order quotas for business and homes, delays in installations in commercial buildings and gaps in service offerings. It was rumoured at the time that as part of planned improvements, the IDA is looking to amend OpenNet’s interconnection offer with the seven operating companies on the NGNBN – including SingTel and StarHub.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in September 2008 OpenNet bagged the contract to build the city-state’s proposed ultra high speed broadband network (i.e. the so-called ‘NetCo’), from the IDA. OpenNet was established in 2008 and is investing SGD100 million (USD68.7 million) in the NGNBN project, in addition to the SGD750 million funding being poured into the scheme by the IDA. By January this year the number of people subscribing to the city-state’s new ultra-high speed broadband network reached the 100,000 mark – or roughly one in ten households. However, at that date coverage had only been extended to 86% of the population, with only four months to go before the mid-2012 deadline of coverage of 95%.