Tweak policies to make telcos compete

 A couple looking at their mobile phones.
A couple looking at their mobile phones. ST PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR

It is puzzling to read that the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) needs to help the potential new entrant into the telco scene here because there are high entry barriers ("Sweet deal to greet potential 4th telco"; Feb 19).

The reason stated in the report is that "the newcomer will not be generating any revenue while incurring a huge capital expense in rolling out a new network".

Having more players does not mean increased competition. Singapore probably has the highest density of petrol stations per square kilometre of land. Yet, drivers here pay one of the highest fuel prices in the world.

Did the petrol companies compete fearlessly to attract more customers? It is not the number of players that steers the price, it is the mechanics of competition.

I am not advocating this, but if the Government allows Singaporeans to pump fuel freely cross the Causeway, petrol prices here will move in accordance with real market forces.

Singaporeans would be better served if the IDA tweaks its policies to increase competition among the existing telcos, instead of introducing one more entity.

A fourth telco means that there will be one more round of regular road-digging to lay telecom cables.

While this is guaranteed, lower mobile costs for consumers are not.

Ben Chen

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 14, 2016, with the headline 'Tweak policies to make telcos compete'. Print Edition | Subscribe