When a new player enters the telco market, there is much fanfare, some price competition and the handing out of freebies to entice new customers.
But this soon fizzles out and, after a while, the difference in prices and perks becomes minimal. It becomes obvious that there is no real competition among these providers (End users benefit from more telcos in market, by the Infocomm Media Development Authority; April 21).
A quick look at some of the charges and services the telcos offer is proof of this.
For instance, caller ID costs $5 and is charged as an added service; all the cheapest mobile plans offer similar data packages (less than 1GB); and all telcos disallow porting of mobile numbers from post-paid plans to pre-paid ones, even though it is a service that would matter much to retirees.
An oligopoly is at work here.
IMDA should do something to ensure that customers really benefit from more players entering the market, and not allow this handful of telcos to dictate the market.
It is time for the authorities to scrutinise the various services the telcos provide and determine if consumers' needs are being met.
Lim Tong Wah