[channel news asia] The roll-out of Singapore's high-speed national broadband network looks set to change the business landscape for the telcos. And analysts said big telcos like SingTel and StarHub could lose market share while M1 may stand to benefit the most.
StarHub announced details of its new broadband offerings on Thursday. Its residential broadband plans are priced between S$68.27 and S$395.90 a month, featuring new content like an online gaming portal.
StarHub will also introduce its Wireless Home Gateway platform which will deliver broadband, voice, Internet TV and IPTV services to homes.
It will also allow the user to seamlessly connect a range of devices like web cameras and smartphones for a complete home networking experience.
In addition, the telco is looking to launch Internet TV with over 1,000 hours of paid video content.
Meanwhile, its business package comes bundled with cloud computing solutions at a monthly charge of S$268.
StarHub plans to reach out to more small and medium sized enterprises, when all the homes and buildings in Singapore are completely wired up by 2012.
Neil Montefiore, CEO of StarHub, said: "At the moment, with our network we can access most residential customers but with the corporate customers, we are limited to about 800 to 1,000 buildings around the CBD area and a lot of the SMEs are not in that area. So, there are about 20,000 buildings which the Next Generation network will give us access to over the years, about 60% of those will be accessible by the end of this year. That's a big market for us."
Industry watchers said StarHub currently has 15 percent share of the corporate market segment. This could go up to 17 to 18 percent in the next three to four years.
StarHub said it will offer a three-month free trial for the new broadband services to 1,000 users.
To keep its existing customers, StarHub will soon review the prices of their premium plans and enhance the services offered in more basic options.
Despite a looming broadband price war, StarHub said it will not compete on price but will focus on providing better service.
One example is its Hub Troopers support services which will attend to customers' enquiries either remotely or on site.
Amid the shake-up, analysts said some customers may choose instead to switch to cheaper broadband plans, and M1 could capture 10 to 15 percent of the market.
On the other hand, SingTel, the major player in both corporate and consumer broadband segments, could lose out.
Ng Kian Teck, analyst at SIAS Research, said: "Right now, 10% of their group's earnings actually come from these data and Internet segments in Singapore. We foresee that over the next three to four years, the profit may actually fall about 10 to 20%."
Analysts said the broadband services market will continue to evolve, but there is a limit as to how far the players can compete on pricing alone.
Taking into account some of the costs that will be incurred, analysts said the lowest price that an internet service provider can offer is probably S$45 per month for the basic plan.
So far, five retail service providers have signed up to offer new broadband services, with M1's offerings looking the most aggressive.
And observers said that M1 is most aggressive with residential plans ranging from S$39 to S$399 a month, while SingTel charges between S$85.90 and S$109.90.
Next Gen NBN to change biz landscape for telcos