Fibre broadband: M1 is latest to join price war

Fibre broadband: M1 is latest to join price war

A price war has broken out in Singapore's fibre broadband space.

Internet provider MyRepublic's $49.99 a month 1Gbps plan launched in January - the cheapest per MB package available then - has sparked massive price cuts by larger rivals.

This speed is the fastest available for home users, allowing high-definition video streaming and several PCs to be connected at one time with little or no lag.

Previously, users here could pay as much as $400 a month for the service.

But in the latest promotion by M1, splashed across a full-page advertisement in The Straits Times yesterday, the telco halved the price of its 1Gbps home broadband plan to $49 a month for an undisclosed "limited period". The usual price is $99 a month.

M1 also threw in freebies such as a 1GB mobile broadband plan, the waiver of fibre installation charges and a constant Internet protocol address that ensures faster file uploads and downloads.

Moreover, printed prominently on the ad was the promise of "no BitTorrent throttling".

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This means users can download online video or files without being subject to the restriction on bandwidth use that comes with most broadband plans.

The "no BitTorrent throttling" vow was marketed prominently by SingTel as well last month when it cut the price of its 1Gbps plan by 30 per cent to $69.90 a month.

Analysts said price cuts are inevitable because of stiff competition in the broadband space here.

The "no throttling" concept was actually pioneered here by smaller fibre broadband players such as ViewQwest and MyRepublic.

"Now, even SingTel and M1 are taking similar steps and recognising the shift in consumer behaviour towards on-demand services such as video streaming," said analyst Ryan Huang at Britain-based brokerage IG.

Teacher Kuang Jingkai, 32, said not restricting broadband usage should be "the norm" as people need high speeds for video streaming.

He recently subscribed to MyRepublic's 1Gbps plan and its virtual private network (VPN) service, which lets him bypass the geographical restrictions set by content providers such as Netflix and Hulu Plus.

Without a VPN service, movie fans would struggle to access these websites, which restrict content distribution to specific regions such as the United States and Britain.

SingTel did not launch its own VPN service, but offered customers of its 1Gbps plan a 25 per cent discount voucher for subscribing to VPN provider VyprVPN.

M1 would only say that it is "evaluating" whether to offer VPN services.

StarHub said that it is working on a new 1Gbps home broadband offer and will announce the details in the coming weeks.

itham@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on September 12, 2014.
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