Two’s company, three’s a crowd. What’s four? I guess we’ll soon find out. MyRepublic, the local tech startup that was the first internet service provider to offer 1Gbps fibre broadband in Singapore is now poised to conquer a new arena – telecommunication. Though it’s still anyone’s guess if Singapore will even allow a 4th player into an already very competitive telco market, MyRepublic has already hinted at what they’ll be gunning for should they be given the opportunity.
Unlimited mobile data plans.
Let’s bring back the golden age of mobile data…
MyRepublic claims that, should they succeed in becoming Singapore’s 4th telco, we will all return to “the days of much larger and more generous data bundles”. According to their Managing Director, Yap Yong Teck, “data plans of 10Gb or 12Gb should not be a premium, but the norm” and I totally agree.
Although it seems like forever, it was actually just 5 years ago that the three existing telcos were offering 12Gb of data a month regardless of the price plan. Those days now seem entrenched in the past, with even the lowest realistic data plans today only giving a measly 2 to 3Gb a month.
(Yes, I know there’s a price plan that offers less than a Gb of data a month, but that’s really not realistic.)
I mean, seriously, look at how bad things are today.
As MyRepublic’s Mr Yap pointed out, 12Gb is now a “premium”. Just look at the insane price plans being offered today.
|Additional Benefits||Unlimited outgoing callsUnlimited local SMS$500 yearly handset discountFree AutoRoam
Free Caller ID
|Unlimited outgoing callsUnlimited SMS$500 yearly handset discountFree Roaming
Free Caller ID
|Unlimited outgoing calls5000 SMS$300 yearly handset discountFree Roaming
Free Caller ID
There’s another phrase for this: It’s called “being held hostage”. If you use mobile phones the way I do, you don’t care about how many SMSes you’re given. You don’t really need unlimited outgoing calls. Despite the fancy premium benefits attached to the plan, the truth is, you’d only pay for it if you did need to use up to 12Gb of data a month. And the truth is, very few people actually need to use that much data.
MyRepublic is on the right track by saying a 12Gb price plan should be the norm. If they truly wish to compete and win users in the current telco environment, they would need to target customers like me. People who don’t really need 12Gb of mobile data a month, but who appreciate what it means.
What 12Gb really means is the convenience of never needing to switch from 4G to Wi-Fi every chance you get. What 12Gb really means is the freedom to download as many apps, or play as many games on the go without the fear of exceeding your data allocation.
Now, the big question… how much should MyRepublic charge?
I personally think a flat rate of $49.99 a month for 12Gb of data is an excellent starting point. It’s around the same ballpark as the lowest price plans currently being offered. Again, I’m referring to the realistic price plans here, not the ones that cost half the price but give you less than a Gb of data.
Since MyRepublic should be marketing themselves to people who use their mobile data for 99% of the activities on their phones, I dare say they could actually provide say, 100 minutes of talk time and 100 SMS a month, and then charge customers for any excess talk time or SMS usage. I highly doubt anyone who uses Skype, Line or WhatsApp would exceed that amount.
I suspect that at a pricing range of about $39-$59 a month, MyRepublic will have no difficulty winning over customers who are currently struggling with limiting their usage to 3 to 4 Gb a month.
What’s the catch?
Well, there are two potential issues that need to be resolved.
Firstly, MyRepublic themselves are not planning to achieve more than 10% to 15% of the market share. This is because the price of the spectrum license in Singapore is inflated, based on the auction results in 2013. Having a smaller supply would naturally mean that MyRepublic may choose to charge their customers more.
Secondly, MyRepublic’s network coverage would take time to build and expand. In the meantime, MyRepublic would have to piggyback on other telco’s mobile networks. And if the other telcos decide not to be friendly about it (they have no reason to, after all), then there would be areas in Singapore where there would be no phone coverage. The same applies for data coverage as well.
How do you feel about having a 4th telco provider in Singapore? Let us know what you think.