Business customers fed up with waiting for network builder OpenNet to connect them to fibre broadband are turning to SingTel - angering some Internet service providers (ISPs) in the process.
The ISPs, which buy fibre broadband from OpenNet and then retail its use to customers, say customers are switching to SingTel's hook-up for wholesale fibre links, which takes just 15 days - twice as fast as the time needed by OpenNet.
SingTel can be faster as it has its own fibre links to commercial buildings, and does not depend on OpenNet to make the connections.
One of the disgruntled ISPs, ViewQwest, said about 50 customers have cancelled orders with it so far this year, saying SingTel could deliver the service much quicker. ViewQwest chief executive Vignesa Moorthy told The Straits Times: "Customers will not accept the unknown waiting time. They feel it is safer to go with SingTel, which they have said can deliver in 15 days."
This is at least twice as fast as what OpenNet could, and is required to, deliver.
New regulatory standards that began in January last year state that OpenNet must connect 80 per cent of new business sign-ups within four weeks of the order date and the remaining 20 per cent, within eight weeks.
ViewQwest said 30 per cent of its business orders take longer than four weeks to complete.
Another ISP, SuperInternet, said the opportunity costs of the delays have been great although OpenNet was set up to promote broadband competition.
"One out of three potential customers cannot wait and has turned to SingTel," said managing director Benjamin Tan yesterday.
Just under half of its orders are fulfilled within four weeks, he said, adding: "We're not competing on a level playing field."
Mr Yew Hock Meng, chief operating officer of LGA Telecom, said there is "a lot of room for improvement" but because OpenNet is cheaper than SingTel for wholesale fibre links, some customers have chosen to wait.