IDA tells telcos to have mobile services at Sports Hub ready by mid-June

IDA tells telcos to have mobile services at Sports Hub ready by mid-June

SINGAPORE - Singapore's telco regulator has directed SingTel, StarHub and M1 to roll out mobile services at the Sports Hub by mid-June when the building would be completed.

The move by the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) ends months of speculation that the 35ha facility may not have 3G and 4G services as talks between the telcos and locally-based systems integrator Consistel had broken down.

In a statement on Thursday's night, an IDA spokesman said: "IDA understands that the mobile operators are implementing measures to ensure that mobile services will be made available by such time and remain in commercial discussions with Consistel."

He did not elaborate.

In January, The Straits Times reported that the two sides could not agree on pricing despite having started talks in mid-2013. Another issue was related to meeting IDA's service standard requirements.

Consistel had been appointed by the Sports Hub to build and host all its wireless systems, including the 3G and 4G equipment.

Consistel would then lease the use of the equipment to SingTel, StarHub and M1 in an arrangement that is a first of its kind in Singapore.

Traditionally, property developers work directly with telcos on installing such equipment.

When contacted, Consistel and the three telcos declined to comment as they are bound by confidentiality obligations.

Meanwhile, Singapore's fourth mobile operator Grid Communications has inked a deal with Consistel to provide emergency call and walkie-talkie services in the complex.

Grid's chief executive Lim Meng Poo confirmed a deal has been signed after 10 months of talks but would not divulge the details.

The Straits Times understands such contracts are long-term agreements lasting up to 21 years. Even for a small player like Grid, with about 70,000 walkie-talkie lines, it could cost more than $500,000 a year to rent the equipment.

Analysts say that outsourcing the management of telco infrastructure has bigger implications than costs.

Mr Emeka Obiodu, principal analyst at Britain-based market research firm Ovum, said: "If telcos do not own the infrastructure, they may lose the competitive advantage to, say, keep out Internet voice players like Skype."

Mr Mike Ang, president of the Association of Telecommunications Industry of Singapore, said telcos might have felt threatened as "traditions have been broken" and they have lost control of cost management.

The completion of the Sports Hub has been delayed for two months but its indoor aquatic centre and outdoor water sports centre will be available for use from next month.

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