Australia-based fixed line operator TPG Telecom beat out Singapore-headquartered rival MyRepublic to win the city state’s fourth mobile licence, in a spectrum auction open only to new entrants.
TPG won with a bid of SGD105 million ($73.3 million) and will be allocated 60MHz of spectrum, comprising 20MHz in the 900MHz band and 40MHz in the 2.3GHz band. It is TPG’s first move outside of Australia and also its first in the mobile space. The company can launch service from 1 April.
A month ago Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) pre-qualified TPG and Singapore ISP MyRepublic to participate in the auction, while last-minute entrant airYotta didn’t make the cut.
The agency sought to ease the entry of a fourth mobile operator through steps including setting aside the 60MHz of spectrum for pre-qualified bidders in a new entrant spectrum auction, which was held over the past two days. The entry of the new mobile player is expected to enhance innovation and competition in the mobile market, IMDA said in a statement.
TPG will be required to use the allocated spectrum to provide nationwide street level 4G coverage within 18 months from the start of the new spectrum rights. The licence also requires it to cover road tunnels and in-building service coverage within 30 months as well as MRT underground stations/lines within 54 months.
IMDA will now hold the second stage of the 4G auction, the general spectrum auction, which will be open to the existing operators – M1, Singtel and StarHub – as well as TPG. The regulator said it plans to start the auction in Q1 2017.
MyRepublic CEO Malcolm Rodrigues in May said being a new entrant without legacy systems gave the company a big cost advantage over rivals. He said it would need about SGD300 million, less than a third of the conventional infrastructure cost, to build a nationwide 4G network as it could use existing facilities from its internet business. However, following the appointment of two international investment banks to raise SGD250 million, MyRepublic didn’t issue any progress reports for months, which raised concerns about its ability to line up financing for its bid and rollout.