M1 eyeing mobile broadband growth

Summary:Singapore mobile operator MobileOne counting on iPhone and mobile broadband to drive new services growth this year; raked in US$108 million profit in 2009.

SINGAPORE--Local mobile operator MobileOne (M1) is counting on the iPhone and mobile broadband to drive new services growth this year.

At a briefing here Tuesday to announce its financial results, the company noted a growth in mobile broadband usage last year and highlighted, in particular, "overwhelming" sales of the Apple iPhone.

Rival Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) was the only local operator to carry the device exclusively for a year from August 2008, until M1 and the country's third operator StarHub began offering the iPhone in December last year.

M1 CEO Karen Kooi said: "Sales of the iPhone have far exceeded expectations." She declined to specify, however, how much revenues have been accrued from the device.

Kooi further said mobile data revenues increased as a result of a larger mobile broadband customer base. Non-voice revenues, she said, made up 26 percent of services revenues, up from 23.4 percent a year ago.

She noted that the expected launch of Singapore's next-generation broadband network (NBN) would provide opportunities to offer fixed voice services.

The company had expressed interest in as a retail service provider after it lost the bid to be the NBN's OpCo last year to StarHub.

M1 has also been upgrading its infrastructure. Besides a 2G network upgrade to an IP (Internet Protocol) backbone, it intends to trial LTE in February, Kooi said, adding that the company plans to roll out a 42Mbps broadband network this year, to take advantage of the mobile broadband growth.

M1's fixed broadband offering has helped keep churn rates down, and it intends to offer more service bundles to customers this year, she said. The telco had started reselling cable and ADSL-based broadband services early last year.

She also noted an interest in the IPTV market, but said M1 would "not compete for exclusive premium content".

On the company's financial performance, Kooi said last year's economy pushed operating revenues down 2.4 percent year on year to S$781.6 million (US$561.7 million), but the company managed to stay profitable at S$150.3 million (US$108 million) as a result of "ongoing cost management initiatives". Its EBITDA margin on service revenue climbed 1.3 percent to 44.2 percent, she said.

Its overall market share held at 25.7 percent, from the year before.

Topics: Networking, Broadband, Emerging Tech, Mobility

About

Victoria Ho is a tech journalist based in Singapore, whose writing has appeared in publications such as ZDNet, TechCrunch, and The Business Times. When she's not obsessing about IT, you can find her tinkering with music and daydreaming about which guitar to buy next.

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