S'pore may get fourth telco

The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) has launched a public consultation on introducing more competition in the mobile phone services market.

This may lead to the launch of a fourth mobile operator here, giving consumers more choices, The Straits Times reported on its website.

One way for a new telco to start up in Singapore is to buy airtime in bulk from existing operators.

Mobile operators who buy airtime in bulk instead of building their own physical mobile networks are known as mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs).

That was the model Richard Branson's Virgin Group adopted when it launched Virgin Mobile in Singapore in 2001, The Straits Times report said.

But it closed down barely a year after starting operations, citing weak market conditions.

IDA wants to consult the industry and the public on what legislation can be introduced to allow more MVNOs to operate here, including a possible fourth mobile operator.



The authority wants to "inject more competition in the mobile market, which could lead to lower prices and more innovative services," said a spokesman. "Niche markets could also be better served."

There are half a dozen small MVNOs in Singapore serving niche markets. None of them offers mass-market mobile services.

Together, MVNOs account for less than 1 per cent of the total customer base here, the report said.

The consultation ends on May 20.


This article was published on April 23 in The New Paper.Get The New Paper for more stories.