Singapore's mobile scene is set to be more competitive with the entry of yet another mobile service operator, bringing the total to six.
Local fibre broadband operator MyRepublic - which lost out to Australia-based TPG Telecom in securing the fourth telco licence in Singapore last year - announced yesterday plans to launch mobile services here as early as October this year.
It will buy airtime in bulk from one of the existing dominant telcos - Singtel, StarHub and M1 - instead of building its own physical mobile networks. Such telcos are known as mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), a licence MyRepublic acquired last month.
One-year-old Circles.Life, which buys airtime in bulk from M1, is the only other major MVNO here. With MyRepublic's entry, Singapore will have six major mobile service providers.
MyRepublic chief executive officer Malcolm Rodrigues said it will offer "generous mobile data" in Singapore. By next year, it will also be offering video streaming services to local mobile subscribers.
"We are committed to being disruptive," he said, adding that it hopes to capture a 5 to 6 per cent share of Singapore's mobile market in five years.
Businessman Harry Chew, 47, who is among MyRepublic's 70,000 fibre broadband subscribers here, said this is good news. "Hopefully this means a cheaper bundle offering of fixed and mobile broadband services," said Mr Chew.
MyRepublic said it received calls from two telcos "days after" TPG won the fourth telco licence.
"The objective is make it as difficult as possible for TPG to be successful," said Mr Rodrigues. The former StarHub executive would not say which telco it will partner.
Meanwhile, StarHub said it is "in talks with interested parties on MVNO partnerships", but would not name the parties. An M1 spokesman said: "We are not in discussion with MyRepublic on any MVNO offer." Singtel did not reply by press time.
Mr Rodrigues also set the record straight on market rumours that MyRepublic was planning to buy M1, saying "we are not pursuing" the purchase of M1.
The rumours came about after MyRepublic started raising funds in May. It hopes to net $100 million from private equity investors which Mr Rodrigues said is for driving its MVNO plans in Singapore as well as Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia - three other markets which it already operates in.
Mobile service launches in those countries are planned for next year.
Funds raised will also be used to install optical fibre infrastructure in Indonesia so as to grow its fibre broadband customer base, which stands at 100,000 subscribers.
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.
Proceeds from the IPO will help the company expand in eight other regional markets, including Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand, over the next five years.
MyRepublic previously raised a total of $120 million from Brunei's largest telco DST Communications and Indonesian conglomerate Sinar Mas' telco unit Sunshine Network, among others.