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Singapore’s would-be fourth cellco MyRepublic says could be profitable within three years of licence award

2 Mar 2016

Singapore broadband access provider MyRepublic, which is vying to become the city-state’s fourth mobile carrier, says that its lower cost base means that it could still enter the black within three years of securing a licence, even with a relatively small subscriber base. The ISP – backed by Indonesian telco Sunshine Network and French telecoms billionaire Xavier Niel – is hopeful of signing up 250,000 mobile customers in its first year of operations, if it wins the upcoming spectrum auction later this year, with CEO Malcolm Rodrigues quoted by Bloomberg as saying that MyRepublic is looking to secure a 9% market share, equating to more than 700,000 subscribers, by the end of year five. To achieve this, the newcomer will foreground a range of unlimited mobile internet data plans, he said. TeleGeography notes that MyRepublic is promising a return to the days when people could browse the web with unlimited data plans – services that Singtel, StarHub and M1 stopped providing in 2012, to the dismay of their customers.

Mr Rodrigues estimates that his company will need approximately SGD300 million (USD214 million) – or less than a third of the ‘conventional’ infrastructure cost – to build out a 4G LTE network island-wide, as MyRepublic intends to utilise facilities already deployed by its broadband internet business. ‘We’ll have a much faster network than the existing players because our network will be less dense,’ he said, adding: ‘We don’t have legacy issues, so our operating costs will be lower.’

The Singaporean broadband disruptor strengthened its bid to secure the nation’s fourth mobile licence, launching a 4G data trial in the Jurong Lake District area in October last year. In the two-month live trial, the ISP allowed 1,000 selected users to test its 4G voice and data services using a free Xiaomi 4 smartphone loaded with a MyRepublic SIM card.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Singapore’s telecoms industry watchdog the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) has set the stage for an auction of mobile airwaves in the third quarter of 2016. Last month the regulator confirmed its plan to sell off 235MHz of spectrum and has set aside 60MHz of bandwidth in the 900MHz and 2300MHz bands for a new entrant, ahead of a general sale for the three incumbents. To entice a would-be newcomer, the IDA is setting a lower reserve of SGD35 million on the fourth-telco spectrum, representing a 45% discount on the standard reserve price. Along with MyRepublic, another local firm, OMGTel, a unit of wireless systems firm Consistel, has also expressed interest in the auction.

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