Local ISPs join forces to oppose OpenNet sale to SingTel's business trust

Six local broadband service providers and a coalition of Asia Pacific carriers have joined forces to oppose the proposed sale of Singapore's fibre broadband network builder OpenNet to a business trust owned by rival telco SingTel. -- BT PHOTO: Y
Six local broadband service providers and a coalition of Asia Pacific carriers have joined forces to oppose the proposed sale of Singapore's fibre broadband network builder OpenNet to a business trust owned by rival telco SingTel. -- BT PHOTO: YEN MENG JIIN

Six local broadband service providers and a coalition of Asia Pacific carriers have joined forces to oppose the proposed sale of Singapore's fibre broadband network builder OpenNet to a business trust owned by rival telco SingTel.

In a media statement, M1, StarHub, MyRepublic, ViewQwest, SuperInternet, Nucleus Connect and the Asia Pacific Carriers' Coalition - comprising telcos including BT and PacNet - said that the proposed sale "fails to address how it would deal with the unresolved and escalating problems the industry faces or how this would benefit end-users".

In their joint 38-page submission to the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), they also said that the sale would have "a significant negative impact" on the success of the nationwide network, dubbed the Next-Generation Broadband Network (NGNBN). It would also "further entrench SingTel's dominance".

They were responding to an IDA consultation exercise, which closed Wednesday. If the sale were to go through, they said that IDA must impose stringent conditions and service performance guarantees "beyond rhetoric on integration benefits" to safeguard the public's interest. For instance, OpenNet would have to pay broadband service providers, to which it sells wholesale broadband services, higher penalties for service delays.

Launched in September 2010, the NGNBN was created with a $750 million Government grant to ensure open access to wholesale broadband services. The touted benefits include cheaper services and more choices for home and business users.

The IDA's consultation exercise sought to address whether the acquisition would result in substantially less competition or harm the public's interests. This may involve a reduction of supply, increase in price or the elimination of a significant market player.

OpenNet's shareholders - SingTel, SP Telecommunications, Singapore Press Holdings and Canada's Axia NetMedia - announced their agreement to sell OpenNet for $126 million to NetLink Trust on Aug 22.