M1 snags 20K additional mobile subs ahead of TPG network launch

While losing 25,000 prepaid mobile customers across 2017, M1 gained 45,000 post-paid customers, although it is expecting competition to grow once fourth provider TPG enters the market at the end of this year.

Singaporean telecommunications company M1 has reported its full-year financial results for 2017, announcing that it had gained 20,000 mobile subscribers by the end of December.

The gains came from 45,000 additions to its post-paid customer base to a total of 1.247 million customers, partially offset by 25,000 customers lost from its prepaid base down to 747,000.

M1 brought in SG$642.5 million operating revenue in mobile telco services during the quarter, up slightly from SG$640 million a year earlier, despite average revenue per user (ARPU) falling across both post-paid and prepaid, from SG$50.30 to SG$48.70 net per month and SG$12.20 to SG$10.70 per month, respectively.

M1 held a 25.1 percent market share in post-paid as of December 31, and 22.3 percent prepaid market share; however, it added that it foresees competition increasing in 2018 due to the launch of a fourth provider in the Singaporean mobile market.

TPG is expecting to complete its Singapore outdoor mobile network by the end of 2018.

M1 also mirrored the statement from its third-quarter financials that profit drops could continue due to expanding its IT offerings.

"As we transform to a smart communications provider, we progressively scale up our ICT capabilities and portfolio of digital services to capture opportunities in IoT and Smart Nation," M1 CEO Karen Kooi said.

"The digitalisation will improve operational efficiency and enhance our customer touch points, providing a seamless experience for digital natives and tech-savvy segment."

M1 reported a total net profit for 2017 of SG$132.5 million, down 11.5 percent from SG$149.7 million, which it attributed to increased depreciation and amortisation expenses and higher interest expenses.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) stood at SG$302.5 million, down 3.1 percent from SG$312,1 million, while operating revenue rose by 1 percent to SG$1.1 billion.

Fixed services brought in SG$129.7 million in operating revenue, SG$25.5 million more than last year due to adding 29,000 fibre customers for a total of 189,000 despite fibre ARPU dropping from SG$45.10 to SG$43.50 per month.

M1 had launched the world's first symmetrical 10Gbps fibre broadband passive optical network (PON) service in October, offering the new speeds to corporate customers.

At the same time, it announced an expansion of its fibre-to-the-building (FttB) service and an upgrade of its unified operations monitoring centre (UOMC), with its emphasis on security following the launch of a network-based malware detection solution for smartphones with Nokia in September.

For the full year, international call services and handset sales both dropped in operating revenue, contributing SG$55.9 million and SG$243 million, respectively.

During the year, M1 launched a narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) network, purchased spectrum for its 4G and 5G networks, and completed trials of controlling drones via its 4.5G HetNet, with the provider saying it spent SG$151.1 million on capex in 2017, up from SG$140.5 million in 2016.

"Capital commitment as at 31 December 2017 was SG$199.8 million, which includes SG$188 million for the 700MHz spectrum," the company added.

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