UPDATED 6/9: The battle for Singapore’s fourth mobile licence just got a lot more interesting, with newcomer airYotta expressing interest in participating in the new-entrant spectrum auction next month.
Newly-formed airYotta joins ISP MyRepublic and Australian fixed-line operator TPG Telecom, also a surprise entrant, in seeking to become Singapore’s fourth mobile player.
The successful new entrant will battle incumbents Singtel, StarHub and M1.
airYotta submitted an expression of interest in bidding for the spectrum on the final day applications were accepted.
Singapore’s Infocomms Development Authority (IDA) in July issued the final rules for the upcoming 4G spectrum auction and set a 1 September deadline for new entrants to submit applications.
The IDA has taken a number of steps to ease the path for the entry of a fourth mobile operator to boost competition. In February it released a detailed framework for its previously announced spectrum allocation. The regulator lowered the reserve price for the 60MHz of spectrum that will be set aside for a new operator to SGD35 million ($25 million) from SGD40 million and doubled the allocation of spectrum in the 2.3GHz band to 40MHz. A year ago it proposed setting aside 60MHz out of a total of 225MHz of new spectrum at a lower reserve price in a separate auction to be open only to new entrants.
airYotta said in a statement that it is “backed by a regulated fund and fully financed by a single investor”. The company is led by Michael DeNoma, who was previously head of consumer banking at Standard Chartered. Its CTO is Philip Heah, who led Singapore’s next-generation nationwide broadband network project and the development of its smart nation initiative.
Heah said the mobile industry is facing a major disconnect between demand and supply of mobile data capacity, exacerbated by video-streaming, new applications and services, and the Internet of Things. “airYotta is a response to this insatiable demand for data, and will allow Singapore to realise its smart nation vision,” he said.
Its team includes executives from OMGTel, a subsidiary of Consistel, a regional wireless network provider that had expressed interest in the fourth mobile licence and reportedly had lined up commitments for as much as $400 million of the nearly $1 billion it aimed to raise.
TPG’s move to establish a presence in Singapore is its firm move outside of Australia and also its first in the mobile space.