Two parties remain in race to be fourth telco, one contestant disqualified

Local fibre broadband operator MyRepublic and Australian telco TPG Telecom will get to participate in the 4G mobile airwave auction slated to complete by December.
Local fibre broadband operator MyRepublic and Australian telco TPG Telecom will get to participate in the 4G mobile airwave auction slated to complete by December.ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

SINGAPORE- The race for the fourth telco licence in Singapore is now a two-way fight as one contestant has been disqualified by the authorities.

Local fibre broadband operator MyRepublic and Australian telco TPG Telecom will get to participate in the 4G mobile airwave auction slated to complete by next month (December), the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) announced late Wednesday (Nov 16).

The winner of the auction will become Singapore's fourth mobile operator, the first time in 15 years that new companies have expressed an interest to break the triopoly of Singtel, StarHub and M1.

Three-month-old local start-up airYotta, which surprisingly signed up for the auction in September (2016), has been disqualified.

IMDA said in a statement that airYotta did not fully meet its auction requirements, but did not elaborate on the specific reasons for disqualifying the company.

When evaluating potential bidders, IMDA said it considers - among other things - whether they meet its "fit and proper person" criteria, particularly the management skills, competencies and operational experience in deploying and operating a public telecommunication network.

This rule, last updated on IMDA's website on July 14 (2016), also ensures that individuals or entities taking part in the auction have "a strong financial standing, are fully committed and capable entities, possess integrity and credibility, do not raise significant reputational concerns, and do not raise public interest concerns".

It is also not known if airYotta's links to local firm OMGTel have played a part.

airYotta's chief executive officer Michael DeNoma and chief technology officer Philip Heah were former executives of now-defunct OMGTel, which announced its ambition to be the fourth telco in October 2014.

OMGTel was partly owned by local wireless systems specialist Consistel, which was fined $300,000 in August (2016).

Consistel had breached its licensing obligations for signing an unauthorised agreement to sell the Sports Hub's telecommunications system, which it owns, to another company.

The police are also investigating Consistel for having submitted false documents to mislead IMDA into thinking the sale agreement had not yet been signed.

In a statement, MyReublic said: "We remain committed to bringing Singapore a truly fixed-mobile converged offering, including generous data, seamless coverage and support for the massive potential of the Internet of Things."

The company, which provides fibre broadband services in New Zealand, Indonesia and Australia, said it plans to bring mobile services to the region following a Singapore rollout if it gets the fourth telco licence here.

Mr DeNoma of airYotta said in a statement: "Putting in place the components of what would be Singapore's first data-led telco in a limited amount of time was always to be a miraculous journey."