TPG Singapore ‘on track’ to achieve national outdoor mobile coverage by Dec-18

19 Sep 2017

Australian telco TPG Telecom has announced that its in-deployment mobile network in Singapore is progressing well and it expects to attain city-wide outdoor coverage by 31 December 2018, with work currently ongoing on core network, radio equipment installation, and datacentres. The group, which won the race to become Singapore’s fourth mobile network operator (MNO) in December 2016, says that the ‘strong progress’ seen to date is in compliance with its licence obligations, noting that it has signed up a number of vendors to assist in the network build. ‘Key vendor contracts have been awarded, and work is under way for the implementation of the network, including: site radio network equipment installation; primary and diverse datacentres; and core network and backhaul,’ TPG said during its FY 2017 (ending 31 July 2017) financial results presentation released on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).

TPG secured the coveted frequencies with a winning bid of SGD105 million (USD73.7 million), beating off a SGD102.5 million bid from rival MyRepublic at the New Entrant Spectrum Auction (NESA). It was allocated 2×5MHz in the 900MHz spectrum band and 8×5MHz at 2300MHz to provide International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) and IMT-Advanced 4G services, with the Singapore regulator, the Infocommunications Media Development Authority (IMDA), saying that the new spectrum rights would commence on 1 April 2017 at the earliest, but noting that the actual commencement date of the rights would depend on the completion date for the second phase of the auction – i.e. the General Spectrum Auction (GSA). As per the terms of the licence award, TPG Telecom is 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. Coverage for MRT underground stations/lines should start within 54 months from the start of the new spectrum rights, the watchdog added.

‘Aside from spectrum purchases, there has not yet been any significant mobile network expenditure. This will commence in FY18,’ TPG explained. ‘In Singapore, the group is on track to achieve the first milestone of nationwide outdoor service coverage before the end of 2018. CAPEX projections are currently looking to be within initial assumptions.’ Previously, in March 2017 the Aussie group predicted CAPEX spend of between SGD200 million and SGD300 million to roll out its Singapore network. Then, in April it spent a further SGD23.8 million to secure additional spectrum – winning 2×5MHz in the 2500MHz band in the GSA. ‘We are very satisfied with the allocation obtained in the new entrant spectrum auction, and are now very pleased to have successfully taken the opportunity to add to our portfolio of spectrum assets in Singapore,’ chief executive David Teoh said at the time. ‘The additional 10MHz of spectrum will enable us to further enhance the value of the services we plan to offer to Singapore consumers.’

TeleGeography notes that during the GSA, Singtel was the biggest hitter, bidding a total of SGD563.7 million to secure a total of 75MHz of spectrum – broken down as 4×10MHz in the 700MHz band, 2×10MHz in the 900MHz band, and 3×5MHz in the 2500MHz band. Meanwhile, the city-state’s second largest player by subscribers, StarHub, bought 60MHz of spectrum for SGD349.6 million – 3×10MHz in the 700MHz band, 1×10MHz in the 900MHz band, and 4×5MHz in the 2500MHz band. The nation’s smallest cellco, M1, offered a total of SGD208 million for 30MHz – 2×10MHz in the 700MHz band and 1×10MHz in the 900MHz band. The spectrum rights in the 900MHz and 2500MHz bands commenced on 1 July 2017, while those in the 700MHz band will commence on 1 January 2018 at the earliest.