M1 prepares for OpCo position

In anticipation of Singapore's National Broadband Network, MobileOne is moving from a single-play operator role to multi-play, it said.

SINGAPORE--In anticipation of the country's planned National Broadband Network (NBN), MobileOne (M1) is moving from being a single-play operator to multi-play, it said during a financial results announcement Friday.

The Singaporean telco is a pre-qualified bidder for the Operating Company (OpCo) role for the nationwide project.

Having rolled out a fixed broadband service in August last year, M1's chief financial officer, Karen Kooi said this move, in addition to rolling out mobile TV and IPTV services, is aimed at preparing the company for the OpCo role.

"We have started [rolling out] to give us the customer base and expertise to be able to prepare... Maintaining margins [on these services] is not the main priority yet," Kooi said.

M1 is eyeing opportunities as both an access and content provider for the NBN, she said. "There is a big opportunity in access, and a smaller one in content. But we're not giving up on either," she said.

The winning bid is expected to be announced in the first quarter of this year.

"Regardless of the outcome of our bid, a neutral and transparent open access environment will help M1 compete more effectively in the fixed space as a retail service provider," she said.

M1 also disclosed its financial results for last year, which showed operating revenue at S$801 million (US$535 million) while service revenue rose by 1.6 percent to S$738.5 million (US$492.8 million).

Net profit for the year, however, declined 4.5 percent to S$150.1 million (US$100.1 million).

The rise in service revenues helped offset a dip in handset sales of 0.3 percent. M1 chief marketing officer, P. Subramaniam, said the dip in handset sales were due to the smaller variety and cheaper price points of the models last year.

International call revenues went up 7.9 percent, with call traffic growing 70 percent to 526 million minutes, up from 310 million minutes in 2007.

Average retention cost per customer was higher than last year, while average acquisition cost was lower due to more targeted offers for customers, said Subramaniam.

On the recent departure of M1's ex-CEO, Neil Montefiore, Kooi was mum on the details of the new CEO, saying that the nominating committee is "going through the process of selection", and that a three month period is "normal" before the next CEO is selected.

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