A new provider is jumping into the crowded fibre broadband arena, focusing on short-term contracts and aiming to offer the cheapest broadband plans in Singapore.
New kid on the block Whiz Communications (WhizComms) yesterday launched its first and only product: a 1Gbps home fibre broadband plan.
Those who sign up for a 24-month plan pay $32 per month, while a one-year plan costs $36 per month - the cheapest available to date.
The next cheapest 1Gbps fibre broadband plan is offered by telco M1, at $39 per month with a 24-month contract and a free dual-band wireless router.
WhizComms managing director Chiang Chee Cheong said that by offering a vanilla plan, customers are free to buy the accessories they prefer, such as wireless routers, instead of being stuck with what the Internet service provider gives them.
"We saw a demand among local consumers for the cheapest, no-frills home fibre broadband package with the shortest contract period," he said.
Mr Chiang said the company is targeting its service at new home owners or tenants who may prefer shorter contractual commitments.
To entice customers to come on board, the company is giving a free three-month trial of the service to the first 1,000 customers with no commitment to any plan. At the end of the trial, subscribers are free to drop out without penalty, or continue with the service, which will then mark the start of their contract.
The most expensive 24-month 1Gbps plan is from Singtel at $59.90 a month.
Only Singtel and SuperInternet offer a 12-month 1Gbps plan, at $69.90 and $80 a month, respectively.
Other providers like StarHub, M1, ViewQwest and MyRepublic do not offer 12-month 1Gbps fibre broadband plans.
WhizComms, a virtual operator, does not own fibre optic network infrastructure but instead buys network access wholesale from telco Singtel.
It was set up in May this year by Mr Chiang and its deputy managing director, Mr Jason Kuek. They also run international direct-dial company Phoenix Communications, which is increasingly being challenged by free data-calling services like Skype or WhatsApp, and so are branching out to grab a slice of the broadband pie.
WhizComms does not have retail outlets so it saves on operational costs, which are then passed on to customers.
Mr Chiang said: "We operate on a digital platform, such as through e-commerce sales or enquiries, electronic registration and e-billing, with no physical stores. That saves us retail and manpower cost, which is translated into savings for our customers."
To entice customers to come on board, the company is giving a free three-month trial of the service to the first 1,000 customers with no commitment to any plan.
At the end of the trial, subscribers are free to drop out without penalty, or continue with the service, which will then mark the start of their contract.
Mr Clement Teo, principal analyst at market research firm Ovum, said it remains to be seen whether WhizComms will be able to get a large-enough base of users to sustain itself in the long run.
He added: "Singtel profits from the wholesale business and doesn't lose out on predatory pricing."