By Alfred Siew
M1 has slashed prices for its 100Mbps fibre broadband plan to an attractive S$39 a month, essentially bringing Singapore's broadband prices to a new low in years.
The promotion, part of a tie-in with the Comex tech bazaar starting today at Suntec City, is a good S$20 off the usual S$59-a-month that the telecom operator charges for the benchmark 100Mbps service.
The new low price will attract many users who are not tied to existing ADSL or cable modem plans. These older services are quickly becoming less attractive with their relatively low speeds — and often higher prices — for both uploads and downloads.
For home owners already hooked up with fibre, current low prices mean that it's a no-brainer to get a new plan with faster speeds at often similar or cheaper prices.
StarHub, for example, has a 100Mbps cable modem plan that will set you back by about S$80 a month, while its 100Mbps fibre broadband plan offering 100Mbps downloads and faster uploads costs just S$68.
Since Singapore's first fibre broadband plans were launched last year, competition has heated up quickly. In the beginning, SingTel skipped the common 100Mbps plans and went with 150Mbps offerings, and it also preferred to bundle TV programmes in its plans. StarHub, meanwhile, started off with only 100Mbps and faster plans.
But competition in recent months has forced a rethink. Today, SingTel offers a plain vanilla 50Mbps offering for just S$59.90 a month, while Starhub has a similar plan for S$56.92. Both are aimed at users on a budget.
Still, Singapore's two biggest telcos have a fight on their hands, now that M1 has slashed prices further for its 100Mbps plan to just S$39 a month.
Why is the "orange" telco more aggressive? Unlike SingTel and StarHub, M1 does not have to worry about cannibalising its previous broadband services, which are not the most profitable for it because it has to lease the bandwidth from its competitors.
It is also able to compete more effectively with fibre broadband. The Singapore regulator has mandated that access to the new network has to be offered at open prices to all telcos big and small, essentially levelling the playing field after years of duopoly by StarHub and SingTel, which used to own most of the cables underneath the city state.
The market shakeup has taken years to show results, but today, Singapore users no longer have to look with envy to early fibre broadband club members like Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea for affordable, speedy broadband.
And the competition is only going to get hotter in the coming months, as more users get hooked up and start demanding the faster speeds and cheaper prices offered by fibre plans such as M1′s.
In June, some 70 per cent of Singapore homes, schools and buildings have been wired up with fibre optic cables, according to the authorities. By mid-2012, 95 per cent of the island will be hooked up. Things are looking up for broadband users here.
Not sure when your home is being wired up? Unclear how to wire up everything? Or got a question on which plans to sign up for? Check out our Goondu guide to fibre broadband.
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