SingTel goes for triple play

update Singapore carrier unveils new integrated telecoms services that support fixed-mobile convergence capability.
Written by Aaron Tan, Contributor

update SINGAPORE--SingTel today launched a host of new IP-based triple-play services, in an effort to reduce churn and increase landline subscriptions.

Marketed under the umbrella name, Generation mio, the services are deployed through a new network terminal device that connects to SingTel's ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line) broadband network.

The new service suite, which includes mobile, broadband and fixed-line services, supports fixed-mobile convergence capability. Apart from receiving missed call alerts for home calls on their cellphones, subscribers can also make free unlimited VoIP (voice over IP) calls via their fixed phone line as well as Wi-Fi enabled cellphones.

Targeted at home consumers, the services will be available from Tuesday under nine price plans ranging from S$68 (US$44.10) to S$148 (US$95.90) per month. mio subscribers need not pay for fixed-line rentals and the network terminal device, dubbed the mio box.

Speaking at a media briefing, SingTel's Singapore CEO Allen Lew, said: "Generation mio is a range of simple products that will transform the phone line in every home in Singapore, and allow it to link with our integrated superhighway."

The mio box would also "future-proof" Singapore homes, Lew said, since it can readily connect to the country's upcoming nationwide fiber optic broadband network outlined in the iN2015 infocomm initiative.

More services, including IPTV, will be added to mio packages in future, he noted. "Without committing a particular date, I think we clearly will provide a connection to any home that wants to have our pay-TV product," he said.

Telcos typically offer triple-play services as a means to retain its customers--or reduce its churn rate, an objective that is clearly on SingTel's minds.

Lew said: "[mio] is a way for us for to reduce churn in our discrete services." He noted that SingTel's churn rate for cellular services stands at 0.8 percent, but he declined to reveal churn rates for the company's Internet services.

"This is a strategy to protect our customer base…and more importantly [win back] customers that have moved over to our competitors," he said, noting that the targeted increase in market share should eventually offset the dent in ARPU (average revenue per user) brought about by triple-play services.

As of November 2006, SingTel has about 40 percent of the local mobile market and more than 50 percent of the broadband Internet market, according to latest figures from Singapore's Infocomm Development Authority (IDA).

Lew said SingTel's new triple-play strategy is also aimed at increasing its fixed-line penetration from 97 percent, now, to closer to 100 percent. He noted that few Singaporeans recently maintain fixed lines due to the popularity of mobile services.

Even with the launch of mio, Lew said SingTel will continue to offer separate mobile, Internet and fixed-line telephone services to customers who wish to buy services from multiple telcos.

SingTel's move to offer triple play packages is a belated one. Rival StarHub has been offering discounts of between 5 and 15 percent off subscription fees of customers who sign up for the operator's mobile, TV and Internet services.

Jeannie Ong, StarHub's head of corporate communications and investor relations, said: "We've been offering integrated services for over a year now, and we believe that we provide better value."

Responding to SingTel's delay in this realm, Lew said: "We didn't just want to come up with a 'me too' package of giving discounts because customers take more services from us.

"We wanted to make sure we had an integrated package that was forward-looking," he added. "We were waiting for the right technology to come along and the right momentum in the market."

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