TPG Telecom wins bid to become Singapore's fourth mobile operator

15 Dec 2016

The Infocommunications Media Development Authority (IMDA) of Singapore has announced that Australian telco TPG Telecom has won the right to become the city-state’s fourth mobile network operator (MNO), with a winning bid of SGD105 million (USD73.7 million) for the frequencies on offer. The Aussie firm, which was founded by the billionaire David Teoh, beat off a SGD102.5 million bid from rival MyRepublic at the New Entrant Spectrum Auction (NESA) and will be provisionally allocated 60MHz of spectrum, comprising 20MHz in the 900MHz band and 40MHz at 2.3GHz to provide International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) and IMT-Advanced 4G services. The IMDA says that the new spectrum rights are expected to commence on 1 April 2017 at the earliest, but noted that the actual commencement date of the rights will depend on the completion date for the second phase of the auction – i.e. the General Spectrum Auction.

As per the terms of the licence award, TPG Telecom will be required to utilise the allocated frequencies to provide nationwide street level coverage for 4G within 18 months from the start of the new spectrum rights, with road tunnels and in-building service coverage within 30 months, IMDA said. Coverage for MRT underground stations/lines should start within 54 months from the start of the new spectrum rights, the watchdog added.

The second phase of the auction, which is open to existing MNOs Singtel, StarHub and M1 plus new entrant TPG, is expected to begin in Q1 2017.

Marking its failure at the NESA, MyRepublic issued a statement saying it had submitted a ‘100% cash-backed bid of SGD102.5 million,’ but could find no business case to bid any more than that. Putting a brave face on its bid effort, MyRepublic CEO Malcolm Rodrigues said: ‘We are incredibly proud of the work our team has put in over the past two years,’ however, ‘bidding SGD105 million and beyond simply did not support our vision and business case for mobility in Singapore.’ The CEO went on to point out that MyRepublic ‘had targeted 9% market share in its market projections’, and felt that at SGD105 million, ‘the new entrant must achieve a much higher market share to survive and be successful’.