Axia-led consortium makes S'pore NBN bid

update Group comprising Canada's Axia, SingTel, Singapore Press Holdings and SP Telecoms submits bid for country's next-gen National Broadband Network.

update SINGAPORE--Canada-based communications company, Axia NetMedia, has teamed up with three Singapore-based companies to form a consortium to jointly bid for the nation's planned next-generation National Broadband Network (NBN).

Axia announced in a joint press conference with SingTel, Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) and SP Telecommunications that the consortium, named OpenNet, submitted a bid Monday for the NBN's Network Company (NetCo).

Singapore's Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) is calling for bids for the eventual NetCo to build the NBN's passive fiber grid infrastructure layer. SingTel and Axia have been pre-qualified in an earlier exercise.

The regulatory body is concurrently seeking the operating company (OpCo) which will operate the next "active" layer of the infrastructure, providing wholesale broadband access to downstream operators.

A competing bid was submitted yesterday from Infinity Consortium, formed between Singapore telcos MobileOne (M1) and StarHub and Hong Kong's City Telecom.

SingTel CEO Singapore, Allen Lew, said OpenNet's value proposition is in having SingTel and SP Telecoms onboard--both companies own a substantial portion of the country's existing duct network, which Lew said will minimize digging up of roads, also giving OpenNet a headstart in building the physical infrastructure.

Lew said SingTel's duct network is more extensive than competitor, StarHub's, and will be further extended combined with SP Telecom's network.

Lew added that the consortium will be able to deliver the NBN two-and-a-half years ahead of schedule, by June 2010.

Art Price, Axia chairman and CEO said to keep costs down across the value chain, OpenNet will establish a non-discriminatory, "no compromise" open and equal access to the fiber grid, and will not compete with their customers in the market place.

"This open access, no customer conflict status is not easy to achieve and maintain even with regulatory oversight," said Price, adding later that there is "no competitive structure" in OpenNet, with three of its four owners "not vertically-integrated players".

Price said, referring to Axia's prior experience building similar networks in other countries: "This is the first time we can achieve open access in a market with the incumbent."

Alan Chan, SPH CEO said the media conglomerate is looking to the NBN to provide a platform for its interactive digital media products, which will include streaming video content.

SPH expects to work with retail service providers to create competitively-priced niche products for businesses and consumers, added Chan.

OpenNet's ownership is split between Axia at 30 percent, SingTel at 30 percent, SPH at 25 percent and SP Telecoms at 15 percent.


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