Telco Deep Dive: Singapore’s MyRepublic eyes Malaysian market
By Karamjit Singh June 5, 2015
- Waiting for the right regulatory environment
- Aims to offer 100Mbps at between RM60 and RM70
SINGAPORE-based MyRepublic is pretty much a disruptive fibre broadband player in South-East Asia, and its chief executive officer Malcolm Rodrigues (pic) loves one trend that seems to accompany any market deregulation in the telco space.
“Every time you have a deregulation event in the market, from opening up the long-distance market in the United States in the 1980s, to the local loop unbundling 15 years ago, also in the States, you can see 30% of the market leaving incumbents in virtually every country.
“This is even if you, as a new service provider, are poor at what you do and are a crappy, boring company,” he quips.
Significantly, he says “We are starting to see the same trend in Singapore.”
Naturally, as MyRepublic is neither a crappy nor a boring company. Rodrigues’ goal is to take as much of the 30% as possible in a market where it made a huge splash by offering 1Gbps at a disruptive price of S$49 (about US$36) a month, in May 2014.
Singapore rival StarHub was offering the same service at S$395.90 (US$294) then.
By February 2015, every fibre broadband player in Singapore was offering the service at prices ranging from S$49 to S$69.90 (US$52).
The good news for Malaysians who believe they are paying too much for their fibre broadband services is that Rodrigues is planning for MyRepublic to serve the Malaysian market as well.
“We want to offer 100Mbps at between RM60 and RM70 (about US$16 and US$19) a month,” says the self-professed serial entrepreneur, who launched MyRepublic after having raised S$2.5 million (US$1.9 million) from 21 investors.
Note that dominant broadband player Telekom Malaysia’s current 1Mbps + voice package stands at RM116.60 (US$32).
Small wonder that Rodrigues says, “We want to be very, very disruptive in the market.”
But the caveat to fulfilling this disruptive role is that the regulatory environment has to make sense for Rodrigues.
Specifically he is waiting for Telekom Malaysia (TM) to open up its network access sometime around 2015-2016.
When it was pointed out that TM had already partnered with some telco players which were using its high-speed broadband network, Rodrigues explains that he does not believe in doing wholesale deals with incumbents. “I think they end up screwing you!”
He says he expects MyRepublic’s market entry into Malaysia towards the end of 2015 or early 2016. It is currently in Singapore and New Zealand.
To assist its Malaysian and regional expansion, the company has hired seasoned Malaysian broadband executive Michael Lai to join its team.
One big strength of MyRepublic that allows it to make a profit, even when selling broadband for a low price, is the fact that the organisation is tight.
Comparing telco giant Singapore Telecommunications (Singtel) with MyRepublic, the former has almost 10,000 staff in Singapore, while MyRepublic can cover the entire island with broadband with 88 staff.
Rodrigues says he runs the company in a “very lean and mean model.” He believes this allows MyRepublic to compete with the telcos whose business models epitomise rigidity.
For instance, MyRepublic’s IT, Product, Support and Finance divisions support both New Zealand and Singapore, and will handle Australia as well when it launches there in the third or fourth quarter. He is currently raising a US$20-million round of funding to help execute the expansion there.
But for Malaysians, it is his impending launch here that is going to excite them and increase the pressure on the incumbents!
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