TPG’s highly-anticipated entry in December spurred hopes existing players would offer more competitively priced data and mobile bundles, as well as faster speeds.
Homegrown internet services provider MyRepublic, which lost its bid to become the fourth telco, also recently announced plans to launch mobile services in Singapore as early as October.
MyRepublic, which was also aiming for an initial public offering (IPO) by the end of 2018 to fund its expansion in Asia, will join Circles.Life as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) in the market.
MVNOs provide mobile services by purchasing airtime from one of the current players, instead of developing their own mobile network.
‘Smart Nation’ initiatives drive change
A main driver of the increased activity in Singapore’s telecom market came from the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore’s (IDA) 10-year master-plan, Intelligent Nation 2015, or iN2015, for an “infocomm-enabled future,” offering ultra-high speeds and “intelligent” telco infrastructure.
The IDA later merged with the Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA), to become the Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA)
As part of the master-plan, in 2006, IMDA appointed OpenNet Consortium (now NetLink Trust) as the sole network company to design, build and operate the passive infrastructure, such as ducts, manholes and fiber cables, for Singapore’s ultra high-speed Next Generation National Broadband Network, or Next Gen NBN.
That required Singtel, which owned OpenNet, to divest its stake in the company to separate the passive fiber network infrastructure, the active infrastructure, and the retail service provider layers, with the aim of ensuring fair competition in the retail market.
NetLink Trust CEO Tong Yew Heng told CNBC that he was excited about the long-term prospects of his company, which has a 2.3 billion Singapore dollar ($1.68 billion) IPO, the biggest in Singapore since 2011, set to list on the Singapore Exchange’s (SGX) main board on Wednesday.
NetLink Trust owned a network of approximately 76,000 kilometers of fibre optic cables, 16,200 km of ducts, and 62,000 manholes as of the end of March.The network connects both residential and non-residential locations.