Singapore's fourth telco contender OMGTel has promised to remove pricey roaming charges and stray signals from Indonesia, and improve spotty network coverage, as it finalises $400 million worth of funding to help its bid for a licence.
The subsidiary of Consistel, which set up the Sports Hub's wireless systems, is hoping to raise a total of $1 billion to build a brand new 4G network islandwide.
"We're close to securing 40 per cent of the total funding," Consistel and OMGTel chairman Masoud Bassiri said yesterday. "We have serious investment offers. We only have to sign the papers."
He would not disclose investor details, citing "intense rivalry".
The company is confident of raising $1 billion by the third quarter of this year, when the official auction for mobile airwaves is expected to take place.
SEAMLESS NETWORK COVERAGE
We can deliver consistent coverage as you walk from the carpark to the lift and into buildings and trains. Right now, coverage is very choppy.
OMGTEL CHAIRMAN MASOUD BASSIRI
New entrants will be offered 60 MHz worth of mobile frequencies at a discount of 45 per cent, or at a reserve price of $35 million. The potential fourth telco could launch its services as early as April next year.
OMGTel's newly appointed chief executive officer Bill Amelio, a technology veteran, said it will be "aggressive and hungry" in the upcoming auction.
Another fourth telco hopeful MyRepublic, a local fibre broadband services provider, is expected to contest.
UOB Kay Hian director of research Jonathan Koh said the upcoming auction will be "the liveliest in 14 years" as no new company had expressed any interest in entering the Singapore market.
Should OMGTel win mobile airwaves in the auction to become the fourth operator here, it said it will compete on talk-time, roaming charges and contract length as well as network quality.
"We can deliver consistent coverage as you walk from the carpark to the lift and into buildings and trains. Right now, coverage is very choppy," said Mr Bassiri.
Meanwhile, MyRepublic said it would charge consumers as little as $8 a month for a mobile plan should it become the fourth telco.
Former Cabinet minister George Yeo, who is OMGTel's adviser, said: "Singapore does need a fourth operator, given the state of technological development in the world. Today, people get a bill shock when they forget to switch off auto-roaming. We should be in a world where these things are like water and electricity; you pay a fixed rate and the marginal cost is zero."
OMGTel claimed it could roll out its network islandwide as early as the end of next year using its proprietary automation software for indoor network planning, among other systems. It is also targeting to unseat StarHub as the No. 2 mobile operator in Singapore.
StarHub chief marketing officer Howie Lau said: "Competition is not new to us, and we will continue to build on our strengths."