Pokemon Go craze could turn out to be a boon for telcos

The big winners from Pokemon Go could be the local telcos, as gamers ramp up their use of data to play the hotly anticipated game.

Since its weekend launch, the app has become one of the most downloaded ones here.

There is no Singapore-specific data on downloads, but the Pokemon Go Singapore Facebook group has surged from 32,000 members on Sunday to about 45,000 members yesterday .

Pokemania was alive in Hougang Avenue 10 on Tuesday night, where dozens of fans gathered at a common area at Block 401. The playground had a "lure", which increases the sightings of Pokemon, and some lucky players were rewarded with the rare Pokemon
Pokemania was alive in Hougang Avenue 10 on Tuesday night, where dozens of fans gathered at a common area at Block 401. The playground had a "lure", which increases the sightings of Pokemon, and some lucky players were rewarded with the rare Pokemon Gyrados. PHOTO: COURTESY OF LIM WEIXIANG

The game, which uses geo-location and augmented reality features on mobile devices, is set to boost mobile data usage for telcos.

An OCBC investment research note said industry experts expect a jump in data usage by as much as 500MB per month on average per user. The average monthly data usage per person here is around 3.3GB, said Mr Carey Wong, an analyst at OCBC. He has kept an overweight rating on the telco sector.

However, The Straits Times understands from a local telco that it has not yet seen a surge in data usage, and the game does not consume much data.

Public relations executive Ng Jair Lui, 30, estimates her data use will rise but she will be tracking her usage. "I'm pretty much on it all the time... Some of my friends have busted their limits, but I have never come close to finishing the data on my 6GB plan."

Singtel is getting in on the craze. It is turning sites near several Singtel shops into Pokemon hot spots.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 11, 2016, with the headline 'Craze could turn out to be a boon for telcos'. Print Edition | Subscribe