OMG! New kid on the block wants to be fourth telco here

Speaking to The Straits Times, Consistel chairman Masoud Bassiri said he submitted a letter to the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) two months ago, indicating the firm's interest in the business.

OMG! A new contender has entered the ring in the latest telco wars. The prize: becoming Singapore's fourth telco and grabbing a share of the multibillion-dollar business.

Local tech firm Consistel has entered the fray, after broadband service provider MyRepublic announced its telco ambitions in June. Speaking to The Straits Times, Consistel chairman Masoud Bassiri said he submitted a letter to the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) two months ago, indicating the firm's interest in the business.

It promises cheaper phone bills with its OMG! brand of mobile services if a new firm it is registering secures mobile airwaves.

This could end IDA's 13-year search for a fourth telco to inject more competition. Past efforts were unsuccessful due to the high cost of building new networks and acquiring airwave rights.

There were no takers for the fourth licence when 4G airwaves went on sale last year. The same happened in 2001 during the auction of 3G airwaves. Mr Bassiri said his company has secured more than $150 million from previous rounds of funding. More funds will come in from partners it is recruiting to roll out a brand new mobile network that could cost $1 billion.

"We can roll out an islandwide network in as quickly as 12 months," he said.

Using Consistel's unique technologies, a new islandwide mobile network can be built for 30 to 40 per cent less, he claimed.

Consistel was little known until it locked horns early this year with the three local telcos over the use of its mobile equipment in the Sports Hub.

Consistel builds and hosts all the wireless systems, including 3G and 4G equipment, in the Sports Hub. It then leases their use to SingTel, StarHub and M1 - the first arrangement of its kind here. The IDA helped to resolve a spat over equipment rental fees, among other issues.

An IDA spokesman said it has received Consistel's letter. The bulk of the 4G airwaves has been issued to the three incumbent telcos. The IDA is looking to allocate more airwaves to new players and will decide on the mechanics early next year.

MyRepublic chief executive Malcolm Rodrigues said competition is good news for Singapore. "We expected more than one contender for the fourth telco licence."


This article was first published on Oct 9, 2014.
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