Government revives hunt for more telco services

The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) has launched a public consultation to seek input from the industry and members of the public on proposals to introduce more telco operators.

It is also looking into approaching Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs). These are mobile operators who buy airtime from already present telcos and do not actually build up a physical mobile network.

These new introductions “can potentially offer consumers more choices of service providers, and may bring about greater vibrancy and competition in the mobile and wireless landscape,” said the IDA.

According to The Straits Times, in 2001 the MVNO model was introduced in the country by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. However, it was unable to sustain itself in the market due to “weak market conditions”, said the report.

When asked if current market conditions suited introducing more telco services, the IDA spokesperson told Marketing that currently “there are more business opportunities with many people using mobile data”.

The spokesperson also added that the IDA is expecting the increased competition to possibly lower prices and bring in more innovative services. Also, niche markets could be better served.

A tough time for local telcos?

Singapore’s three telcos have always been in the limelight. Recent incidents that riled the public include outrage over unclear contracts for 4G services; SingTel securing the rights to bring in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, as well as many more.

However, authorities have been increasingly stepping in to their scuffle with consumers.

For example, complaints about PayTV operators and their contracts, led to the local MDA looking into a new rule to heed complaints from the public about pay-TV operators. The rule allowed in-contract subscribers to exit contracts without exit penalties.

The Consumer Association of Singapore(CASE) also criticised the three major telcos for not being transparent in the marketing of their 4G services.

Will adding to competition ease these troubles?