TPG Telecom wins rights to be Singapore's fourth telco

TPG Telecom will be Singapore's fourth telco provider, after submitting a winning bid of $105 million.
TPG Telecom will be Singapore's fourth telco provider, after submitting a winning bid of $105 million.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - TPG Telecom has won the right to be Singapore's fourth telco, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) announced on Wednesday (Dec 14).

This is the first time in 15 years that the three-way hold on the telecoms market by Singtel, StarHub and M1 was loosened.

TPG, an Australian telecommunications company, made the winning bid of $105 million for 60MHz of airwaves. The auction for the spectrum was held between Dec 13 and 14.

The spectrum rights will commence on April 1 next year at the earliest, and TPG will be required to provide street level coverage nationwide within 18 months of the start date.

Coverage for road tunnels and in buildings should be provided within 30 months from the start of the new spectrum rights, while coverage for underground MRT stations and lines should be within 54 months of the start date.

Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim said in a Facebook post that consumers can now "look forward to look forward to more attractive price packages and innovative services". 

"We will continue to drive the development of the telecom industry so that Singapore remains a globally competitive and well-connected infocomm media hub," he wrote. 

TPG beat out local fibre broadband operator MyRepublic in the 4G mobile airwave auction.

In a statement on Wednesday, MyRepublic said that it exited the auction with a final 100 per cent cash-backed bid of $102.5M. This was shy of TPG's winning bid of $105 million.

MyRepublic's chief executive Malcolm Rodrigues said that "bidding $105 million and beyond simply did not support our vision and business case for mobility in Singapore".

At $105 million, the price of spectrum "simply went beyond the level in which the MyRepublic mobility business model could operate", the company said.

Said Mr Rodrigues: "At the current spectrum price, a new entrant must achieve a much higher market share to survive and be successful." The company said that it had aimed to get 9 per cent of the mobile consumer market share.

But MyRepublic Singapore's managing director Yap Yong Teck said that the company would still be committed to the "Smart Nation vision and a converged fixed-mobile future".

A third contender for Singapore's 4G mobile airwave auction, local start-up airYotta had signed up for the auction in September. But IMDA said last month that it was disqualified from the auction.

IMDA said in a statement that airYotta did not fully meet its auction requirements, but did not elaborate.

It is not known whether airYotta's links to local wireless systems specialist Consistel played a part in its disqualification.

airYotta chief executive officer Michael DeNoma and chief technology officer Philip Heah were former executives of the now-defunct OMGTel - airYotta's predecessor.

OMGTel was partly owned by Consistel. The latter was fined $300,000 in August for breaching its licensing obligations when it agreed to sell the Sports Hub's telecommunications system - which it owned - to another company, without first getting the approval of IMDA.

When evaluating potential bidders for the 4G mobile airwave auction, IMDA said that it considers - among other factors - whether the candidates have the necessary management and operational experience in deploying and operating a public telecommunications network. They are also judged on their financial standing, integrity, credibility and reputation.