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M1 aims to sharpen enterprise focus, unveils new mobile plans

Singapore telco introduces two mobile plans with unlimited voice and 6GB or 12GB data that can be consumed in selected global markets, but will need to do more if it wants to drive its enterprise strategy.

M1 has introduced two mobile plans tailored for business users as it looks to increase its service offerings for the local enterprise market.

The Singapore telco announced the M1 Enterprise Mobile 6 and 12 plans, offering unlimited local messaging and voice calls, and 6GB or 12GB data allowance that could be used locally as well as in 56 global markets. These countries were selected based on their popularity among the operator's business users.

The 6GB data plan was priced at S$61 a month (US$43.7), while the 12GB data bundle was priced at S$75 (US$53.7) a month. Excess data usage would cost S$5.35 per GB.

The ability to utilise data bundles overseas was an extension of M1's data passport offering, in which subscribers pay S$10 to S$25 monthly fee to data roam in single global destination or S$25 to S$50 for a list of regional destinations. Data roaming usage would be deducted from the subscriber's local data bundle.

The inclusion of the data passport offering across 56 business destinations would eliminate the need for road warriors to re-activate the service each time they travel, said Willis Sim, M1's chief corporate sales and solutions officer. "There also shouldn't be any difference between roaming local and overseas," he said.

Corporate customers had the option to sign up for the new plans without a contract or opt for a two-year contract to purchase subsidised mobile devices, according to M1. However, they would need to sign up at least 20 lines to utilise the new bundles.

Under the price plans, international voice calls would cost S$0.10 per minute through M1's unified communications service. In addition, subscribers would have access to the telco's cloud-based enterprise mobility management offering, which encompassed features such as device location tracking, containerisation to separate personal and business use, as well as data encryption and remote data wipe.

Apart from the unified communications and mobility management services, M1 would be looking to pile more of such offerings for its enterprise customers moving forward, said Sim. He explained that the telco was aiming to become an ICT services provider for enterprises and would be beefing up its offerings in this space.

This heightened focus and the introduction of new data service plans such as the two launched today were necessary to ensure M1 remained relevant in the market, especially amid the emergence of OTT (over-the-top) players, he said. Telcos today needed to be more than dumb pipes and be a step ahead of OTT players, he added.

For instance, giving customers the option not to sign up for contract was a way to open up the market and enable M1 to compete based on the value of its plans, Sim said.

Wider approach, ecosystem needed

The Singapore operator, though, would need to also ensure it had the right ecosystem to support its enterprise focus, said Clement Teo, Ovum's principal analyst who was at the launch. The new data plans were a good step because M1 was making it simpler for organisations to consume their services, said Teo, whose research focused on enterprise and managed services.

However, the operator also needed to have the right skills and people to sell, support as well as scale their enterprise offerings, he told ZDNet. Pointing to M1's core expertise, he noted that it would need to fill potential gaps to move beyond the networking and telco space and into the enterprise ICT space.

For instance, he said, the telco might be adept at network security because this focused on traffic monitoring for DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks or network anomalies. Cybersecurity, though, encompassed different components and went beyond the network.

Teo suggested that M1 likely would partner various market players, but this also meant it would need to figure out each party's responsibility and oversight and managing the enterprise customer's services.

In addition to looking its organisational structure, the telco would need to figure out its returns on investment, ensure it had the processes in place to be agile and build a robust partner ecosystem, the Ovum analyst said.

Being the smallest of the three local telcos, including StarHub and Singtel, Teo said M1 would be more nimble in responding to market needs, but it remained to be seen if it had the right blueprint to succeed in the enterprise space.

According to Sim, the telco would be looking to hire the necessary skillsets to support its enterprise push and was open to establishing new partners where it made sense.

He also confirmed M1 had begun shutting down its 2G services, in line with the country's staggered approach towards a complete nationwide network shutdown by April 18. Some 123,000 subscribers in Singapore still were using 2G devices as of February 2017.

According to Phil Sorsky, Commscope's international vice president, it was essential to move away from the old network technology so spectrum could be used much more efficiently on newer 3G or 4G technologies.

Billions of dollars were spent acquiring the spectrum bands, so the sooner they could be released for redeployment, the faster telcos could generate returns from the investment, Sorsky said.

He noted that some of those 123,000 subscribers likely would include SIM cards used in POS (point of sales) terminals operating at retail shops. These might not have been replaced due to longstanding service contracts between the retailers and POS providers.

Navin Vohra, Commscope's Asia-Pacific vice president of service provider sales, added that other Asian markets such as Japan and Korea already had moved away from 2G and were predominantly on 3G and 4G networks today.