M1 to ease fibre broadband installation delays

SINGAPORE - At least one Internet service provider (ISP) has taken things in its own hands after a change in the ownership of the entity rolling out Singapore's high-speed fibre broadband network did little to ease delays in delivering customer orders.

From Friday, M1 will hook up its own business customers to the fibre network, a job previously undertaken solely by network builder NetLink Trust, formerly OpenNet.

ISPs like M1 buy fibre links wholesale from NetLink Trust and then retail their use to customers.

They must then for NetLink Trust to install fibre optic cables and connection points before they can start surfing.

However some business customers have been waiting more than two months for this to be done.

Mr Willis Sim, M1's director of product development and corporate solutions, said: "By reducing the number of intermediaries, M1 will be able to better manage the fibre provisioning process. For instance, we will be able to identify bottlenecks faster and work with our customer and relevant parties such as the building owner to promptly resolve the issue."

The agreement for M1 to undertake fibre installation was signed on Monday with NetLink Trust, which had blamed building owners' resistance for causing delays.

NetLink Trust chairman Mr Yap Chee Keong said: "NetLink Trust is committed to working with every partner and stakeholder to bring fibre broadband to every home and business in Singapore. This collaboration with M1 brings our close relationship with our partners to the next level."

New regulatory standards that began in January 2013 state that NetLink Trust must connect 80 per cent of new business sign-ups within four weeks of the order date and the remaining 20 per cent, within eight weeks.

But persistent delays in delivering fibre orders to businesses resulted in NetLink Trust, a Singtel business trust, being fined $240,000 by the Infocomm Development Authority in May last year.

In August 2013, OpenNet's shareholders - SingTel, SP Telecommunications, Singapore Press Holdings and Canada's Axia NetMedia - agreed to divest all their shares to NetLink Trust for $126 million.

itham@sph.com.sg