Will M1 get up to speed with fiber?

Melissa Chua
02 Sep 2011

Singapore’s smallest telco M1 has, for the most part, stood in the shadow of its larger rivals SingTel and StarHub.

M1 has lost out in the numbers game almost since its inception, being the only carrier in the country without triple-play services in its portfolio until late last year, with the launch of its 1box internet TV service. The lack of triple-play services saw the telco failing to enjoy the accompanying perks such as customer loyalty.

The carrier also waited untill 2008 to enter an already saturated fixed broadband market by launching cable internet services via StarHub’s open access network; this was followed by ADSL services in 2009 via the acquisition of local ISP Qala.

A further setback came when M1 lost out on the OpCo bid for Singapore’s NGNBN in 2009. The same next-gen network, however, could also be M1’s real chance to catch up with its more prolific competitors.

While all three players released competitively priced FTTH plans last year as the NGNBN took its first baby steps, M1 has upped the ante this week by launching a promotional 100-Mbps plan priced at S$39 ($32) for a two-year contract, a good S$20 off the usual price. A similar plan from SingTel and StarHub would cost S$69.90 and S$68.27 respectively.

This S$39 price point also looks extremely attractive compared to M1’s ADSL or cable services – a similar plan based on these technologies would cost S$76.60. The promotional plan has naturally generated a fair amount of consumer attention, with many potential customers on Twitter expressing interest in signing up and taking the fiber plunge.

M1 has every reason to engage the up-and-coming fiber market. Unlike SingTel and StarHub which have invested heavily in their ADSL and cable offerings respectively and cannot underprice FTTH plans for fear of making ADSL and cable appear less attractive to consumers, M1 has nothing to lose and everything to gain by promoting FTTH over its less profitable ADSL and cable services.

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