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TPG Telecom wins bid to become Singapore’s fourth telco

Kareyst Lin | Dec. 15, 2016
The entry of the new mobile network operator is expected to enhance innovation and competition in the mobile market.

Singapore's Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) concluded the New Entrant Spectrum Auction (NESA) yesterday (14 December 2016).

Australia telecommunications company TPG Telecom (TPG) made the winning bid of S$105 million, and is now the fourth telco of Singapore, IMDA said in a press statement.

TPG will be provisionally allocated 60 MHz of spectrum made available in the NESA. This comprises of 20 MHz in the 900 MHz spectrum band, and 40 MHz in the 2.3 GHz spectrum band, to provide International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) and IMT-Advanced services.

The new spectrum rights are expected to commence on 1 April 2017, at the earliest.

To facilitate the entry of a new mobile network operator (MNO), IMDA had set aside the 60 MHz of spectrum in the NESA that only pre-qualified prospective new entrant bidders may bid for. The entry of the new MNO is expected to enhance innovation and competition in the mobile market.

IMDA's decision came as a surprise in some ways, beating out homegrown firm MyRepublic, "which has built up their brand as a disruptor in Singapore, and have done a lot to win the hearts of its broadband customers," said Frederic Giron, Vice President and Research Director, Forrester. "On the other hand, TPG is much better capitalised than MyRepublic, having made the winning bid of S$105 million for the spectrum on offer."

"TPG is likely to propose a digital-only offer, giving themselves a lead in terms of price competitiveness and customer experience. However, this lead might not last as other operators are ready to compete, with Singtel as prime example with their EasyMobile offering," Giron added.

"For TPG to succeed in Singapore, they will have to focus on providing a superior customer service experience to create a competitive advantage," he advised. "This means that they will need to understand the needs of Singaporean consumers and their expectations of a mobile service provider in terms of service effectiveness, easiness and enjoyability."

Born in 1986 as a computer equipment firm, TPG was started by its Malaysian-born executive chairman David Teoh, Today reported on 16 December 2016. He emigrated to Australia that same year. TPG is Australia's second-biggest telco after Telstra, and has a market capitalisation of nearly A$6 billion, latest Bloomberg data showed on Thursday. 

TPG is required to utilise the allocated spectrum to provide nationwide street level 4G coverage within 18 months from the start of the new spectrum rights; road tunnels and in-building service coverage within 30 months from the start of the new spectrum rights; and coverage for MRT underground stations/lines within 54 months from the start of the new spectrum rights.

IMDA will next proceed with the second stage of the auction, the General Spectrum Auction. This will be open to the existing MNOs - M1, Singtel Mobile and Starhub Mobile. TPG may also participate in the GSA, which IMDA aims to commence in the first quarter of 2017. 


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