SINGAPORE - From next Tuesday, SingTel mobile users who renew their contracts will pay $3 more for their monthly subscriptions, making their mobile plans the most expensive here.
While some consumers have baulked at the new charges, SingTel said they will be getting more value for money.
Its new plans will come with more talk time and SMSes, as well as a waiver of the monthly $10.70 add-on fee for high-speed 4G services that the telco has yet to charge its 4G users.
Their 4G data allowances, however, will not change for most of the revised plans. Instead, free Wi-Fi access will be provided at SingTel-operated hot spots so users can avoid busting their mobile data caps, said SingTel's vice-president of consumer marketing, Mr Johan Buse.
"Consumers tell us that they want faster speeds and more generous data allowances," he said. "Our new premium Wi-Fi network complements our 4G network and boosts network capacity in crowded, congestion-prone locations."
Today, the telco has 100 hot spots at 10 shopping malls and three train stations. It has promised to increase the number of hot spots to 1,000 by March next year across 30 malls and 24 train stations, and to more than 1,700 by March 2016.
That is still much fewer than the government-backed free public Wi-Fi network Wireless@SG's 5,000 hot spots available today.
Mr Buse said it is not SingTel's aim to build a pervasive Wi-Fi network, noting that its service is five times faster than Wireless@SG. Wi-Fi use will be capped at 2GB a month from August next year, with excess use costing $10.70 a GB - the same rate as excess charges for 4G data.
Some consumers are not buying into the new charges.
Engineer John Wong, 36, said he is already paying $100 a month for 7GB of 4G data, and may consider switching to another telco when his contract expires next year.
And events project consultant Roy Nahar, 34, noted: "SingTel is still not bundling more 4G data at the end of the day despite the price increase."
StarHub skirted questions on whether it will increase subscription rates like SingTel.
Meanwhile, M1 said it will continue to review its tariffs, adding that "customers who wish to offload mobile data already have access to the Wireless@ SG network available at many high-density areas islandwide".
In the past, the telcos have followed one another's lead on price changes.
In July 2012, for instance, SingTel stopped offering generous 12GB mobile data bundles for new sign-ups and contract renewals. Two months later, M1 and StarHub followed suit.
In September last year, SingTel ended its promotional excess-data rates. Since then, its customers have been paying twice as much for exceeding their data bundle. M1 and StarHub followed suit in January this year.
This article was published on Aug 13 in The Straits Times.
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