MyRepublic delays mobile services launch

Local fibre broadband operator MyRepublic is delaying its launch because it needed time to test a more robust system that could support simultaneous mobile service launches in oversea markets.
Local fibre broadband operator MyRepublic is delaying its launch because it needed time to test a more robust system that could support simultaneous mobile service launches in oversea markets. PHOTO: ST FILE

Target now is early 2018 for S'pore; it says time needed to test system for simultaneous launches as well

Local fibre broadband operator MyRepublic has pushed back the launch of its mobile services in Singapore to early next year.

Its chief executive officer Malcolm Rodrigues confirmed yesterday the company had signed a deal to buy airtime in bulk from one of the dominant telcos: Singtel, StarHub and M1. He would not confirm market talk that StarHub had clinched the deal.

When contacted, Singtel and StarHub declined to comment. M1 said it did not talk to My Republic.

MyRepublic, a mobile virtual network operator that does not build its own physical mobile networks, had lost to Australia-based TPG Telecom in winning the fourth telco licence in Singapore last year.

However, Mr Rodrigues noted: "We are already plugged into the local mobile operator and are testing SIM cards."

It is delaying its launch, which had earlier been scheduled for the fourth quarter of this year, because it needed time to test a more robust system that could support simultaneous mobile service launches in oversea markets. MyRepublic will introduce mobile services in Australia and Indonesia next year after the Singapore launch.

He declined to elaborate on price plans, saying: "We plan on being very competitive."

The expansion follows its success in raising $70 million from Singapore-based fund management and financial services firm Makara Capital, MyRepublic said yesterday.

The investment comes from the Makara Innovation Fund, a $1 billion private equity fund set up in April this year to focus on late-stage startups with strong intellectual property.

MyRepublic - backed by French billionaire Xavier Niel - aims to be profitable by the middle of next year, with an initial public offering (IPO) planned for end-2018 in Singapore, Hong Kong or Australia.

Money raised from the IPO will help it expand in eight other regional markets, including Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand, in the next five years.

MyRepublic previously raised $120 million from Brunei's largest telco DST Communications and Indonesian conglomerate Sinar Mas' telco unit Sunshine Network, among others.

The latest injection of funds will also allow it to drive digital transformation in the telco sector. Specifically, it plans to build payment systems for consumers and businesses as homes become "smarter" and businesses automate.

If done right, one plus one will get 11, said Mr Rodrigues. "We want to grow and become more than just a telecom service provider."

MyRepublic has 70,000 broadband subscribers here, and a total of more than 200,000 broadband customers across the four markets it operates in: Singapore, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2017, with the headline 'MyRepublic delays mobile services launch'. Print Edition | Subscribe