IDA receives applications from MyRepublic, airYotta and TPG Telecom for Singapore's fourth licence

2 Sep 2016

The Info-communications Development Authority (IDA) of Singapore said it received Expression of Interest (EoI) documents from three companies – local fibre start-up MyRepublic, Australian telco TPG Telecom and a newly formed company, airYotta – by the submission deadline at 5pm yesterday. Interestingly, OMGTel, the company set up by Singapore tech firm Consistel specifically to launch a bid, failed to tender its application, although local press note that airYotta is fronted by two former OMGTel executives, ex-CEO Michael DeNoma and vice-president Philip Heah.

In a press release announcing its bid, airYotta describes itself as a ‘data-first telecommunications company’. The TODAY newspaper understands that both men left OMGTel recently and established airYotta as ‘a regulated fund that is the first of its kind; fully financed, supported by a single investor, and exclusively dedicated to wireless ventures’. The unnamed investor has no links to OMGTel, but has reportedly bought it out and liquidated it. To date, airYotta has raised enough funds to roll out a mobile network, specifically a 4.5G LTE Advanced Pro network with an architecture common to 5G. TODAY understands that a recent IDA fine of SGD300,000 against Consistel, for falsifying documents and failing to secure regulatory approval for transferring antenna, ultimately compromised its bid.

Meanwhile, the other newcomer is TPG Telecom which was founded in 1986 and currently offers fibre services in Australia. It is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange and has a market capitalisation of AUD10.6 billion (USD7.98 billion); the firm earned AUD1.15 billion in the first half of FY2016 (ended 31 March). Finally, the third applicant MyRepublic has been on the radar for many months and says its goal is to roll out a network that is ‘Pre-5G’, one built to deliver ‘better speeds, lower latency and seamless connectivity’ for consumers. MyRepublic is using Heterogeneous Network (HetNet) technologies, such as small cells and seamless wireless handover technologies, as a core part of its plan. The company conducted a trial for its HetNet technologies in Jurong in October last year. MyRepublic CEO Malcolm Rodrigues said that the company already had an estimated 80% of a mobile telco’s capabilities in place, with its existing IT capabilities and synergies with its current business.

The IDA says it will announce the identities of the pre-qualified applicants for the New Entrant Spectrum Auction (NESA) after assessing the bids. ‘The NESA is the first phase to facilitate the entry of a possible fourth telco operator, and is only open to interested pre-qualified parties which do not currently operate a nationwide mobile network in Singapore. The second phase will consist of a general auction, which the new entrant will also be invited to take part in.’ The IDA will hold a spectrum auction to determine the fourth mobile telco before the end of this year.