IMDA says TPG Telecom's plan to spin off Singapore operations must get approval

31 Aug 2018

Channel NewsAsia reports a spokesperson for the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) as saying that TPG Telecom’s proposed spin-off of its Singapore operations, on or before its USD11 billion merger with Vodafone Hutchinson Australia (VHA), will have to be approved before the restructure can take place. ‘IMDA’s priority is to ensure that TPG Singapore will fully meet all its licence and regulatory obligations, and that there is no adverse impact to Singapore’s competitive industry landscape or the public interest,’ the spokesperson is quoted as saying.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in December 2016 TPG won the race to become Singapore’s fourth mobile network operator (MNO) when it secured coveted mobile 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. In September 2017 TPG Telecom revealed that its in-deployment mobile network was progressing well and that it expects to attain city-wide outdoor coverage by 31 December 2018, while in March this year the new fourth telco revealed plans to offer a free mobile data plan to the elderly as it looks to carve out a niche for itself in the heavily saturated mobile market. Finally breaking its silence on its rollout plans, the Australian-backed enterprise confirmed its intention to launch in the second half of 2018, saying that it will initially target seniors aged 65 and over with a SIM card, 3GB of mobile data, and free local voice calls for the first 24 months.

All this took place before news of its multibillion merger plans with VHA was unveiled, as the two organisations gear up to take the fight to key rivals Telstra and Optus in Australia. The deal is expected to be completed in 2019. In a separate press release, TPG confirmed that it ‘remains committed’ to entering the Singapore mobile market and its board ‘intends to ensure TPG Telecom Singapore has the appropriate funding available’ as its infrastructure rollout continues. It notes that its initial mobile product trial is expected to be unveiled in the fourth quarter of this year.