Which 1Gbps plan works best for you?

Which 1Gbps plan works best for you?

How things - or rather, prices - have changed in the span of 12 months.

Just a year ago, most consumers were priced out of a speedy 1Gbps fibre broadband plan, as it could easily cost between $400 and $500.

But this changed when MyRepublic introduced 1Gbps fibre plans with prices starting at $49.99 per month in January. ViewQwest then dropped the price of its 1Gbps plan from $499.95 to $149.95, and more recently, to $89.95.

We also saw M1's 1Gbps offering drop from a high of $399 to $129, then to $99, and finally to a MyRepublic-matching $49 in September.

To put things in perspective, this magical $49 price point used to be the typical price of a 200Mbps plan.

We cannot think of anything else to call it other than a price war.

StarHub has a 1Gbps plan too. The telco stopped selling it for a few months in the second half of this year, but it is now back with a significant price drop - from $395.90 per month previously to $69.90 now.

SingTel announced its Unlimited Fibre plan in August, which comes with an advertised typical speed of 800Mbps and goes for $54.90.

To enjoy the lowest 1Gbps price from each of these Internet service providers (ISPs), you have to agree to a two-year contract. Only MyRepublic offers 12-month 1Gbps plans for new subscribers, and they are priced higher (from $65 per month) than the corresponding 24-month contracts.

MyRepublic is also the only ISP to offer a Gamer Ultra Edition for its 1Gbps plan. This plan includes several gaming-oriented features, privileges and freebies, and costs $10 more than the regular Ultra plan.

Looking purely at monthly subscription fees, it is clear that M1 and MyRepublic have the two most affordable home 1Gbps plans in Singapore. But price is not everything.

For ISPs with higher-priced 1Gbps plans, they believe they can differentiate themselves from their competitors based on unique services, after-sales support and reliability.

What are some of these differentiating factors, and is there anything you should look out for before signing up for a top-tier plan?

BUNDLES

One big advantage the three telcos here - SingTel, StarHub and M1 - have is that, being mobile and telephony providers, it is easy for them to bundle free mobile and carrier-specific services in their fibre broadband plans, in addition to the free or discounted networking equipment offers (usually routers) that can be replicated easily by the competition.

The smaller players - MyRepublic and ViewQwest - have their own ways to differentiate themselves. A common one is to make use of the broadband connection to offer a triple-play service that covers Internet access, online TV and Internet-based phone services.

Both have services that allow subscribers to easily access popular video streaming websites, such as Netflix, that are usually not accessible from Singapore due to online geographical locks - with no complicated settings to configure.

But the telcos have their own options for Internet voice calls and Internet TV too.

It is hard to say which provider has the best triple-play offering, especially for the TV leg. But for tech-savvy users and those hooked to overseas content, there is no doubt that the flexibility of MyRepublic and ViewQwest's services provides a strong counter to the telcos' more traditional and curated Internet TV offerings.

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