Monday, October 06, 2008

SingTel's OpenNet Wins NGNBN NetCo Bid; Biggest Loser to be StarHub

OpenNet recently won the NetCo segment of the NGNBN. The consortium comprised Canada's Axia NetMedia, and Singapore's SingTel, SPH and Singpower Group. Although it might have been painted as a close "two-horse" race, I doubt if there were ever any questions as to who was going to win the bid. With the government putting up $750m to fund the NGNBN NetCo passive network, it could not afford to place its bets on the Infinity network, which would have faced stiff, cutthroat competition from SingTel, had the latter not won the tender.

And now that SingTel's consortium has won the bid, the long term outlook for StarHub doesn't look pretty. StarHub's franchise lies with its cable network and its strong programming line-up. It keeps customers and prevents churn by using its exclusive cable infrastructure to tighten its stranglehold on the telecoms market with strong triple & quadruple play packages.

But with the advent of the new NGNBN structure, StarHub will see this competitive advantage starting to erode. The open-access fibre infrastructure gives SingTel the advantage now. Despite holding only a 30% stake in OpenNet, SingTel has a huge revenue-share stake in OpenNet's revenues, due to its lease structure agreement with the newly-formed infrastructure company.

Furthermore, we can expect SingTel to move swiftly to rollout the new infrastructure and to start selling next-gen services in this market. The competition will force StarHub to lower prices on its cable franchise in order to prevent churn to the new SingTel fibre offerings. But that will be difficult, considering SingTel's assault on Starhub's cable network, most recently exemplified by MioTV's win of the Champions league broadcast rights.

Add to that SingTel's stranglehold and dominance over international internet gateways coming into Singapore (just try accessing youtube at peak hours over starhub and singtel, and you'll see the difference), and StarHub's cable internet is likely to suffer in the long run.

With the prospect of pricing pressure and heightened competition, Starhub doesn't look like the best stock in Singapore's telecom landscape. Furthermore, the company is almost exclusively focused in the Singapore market, unlike SingTel which has diversified investments in emerging markets overseas. Starhub will have to move quickly to reinvent itself in the light of latest developments, or it may continue to see its stock decline.


[IDA] Selects OpenNet Consortium as its Network Company

By Anshu Shrivastava
TMCnet Contributing Editor

Axia NetMedia has announced that Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) has selected the OpenNet consortium as its Network Company (NetCo).

As per the contract, OpenNet will provide passive fibre grid services for Singapore's Next Generation National Broadband Network (NGNBN).

Back in May, the company announced it entered into an agreement creating the OpenNet consortium. This OpenNet proposal is for the rights to provide passive fibre grid services throughout Singapore. The second is for the rights to provide the active Real Broadband services over the fibre grid.

At present, Axia has a 30 percent interest in OpenNet, while SingTel, Singapore Press, and SP Telecommunications taking up the remaining interest with 30 percent, 25 percent and 15 percent share, respectively.

“OpenNet's approach is future-proof with no compromises from either the technology or business structure perspectives for the passive segment of the network,” said Art Price, chairman and CEO at Axia NetMedia.

He also said in a statement that Axia now has references for the best in class next generation network (NGN) solutions for rural, regional and metropolitan communities. Based on open access no conflict principles, OpenNet plans to create the NGN solution.

According to the company, a key component of the solution involves OpenNet acquiring access to existing infrastructure through usage fees that vary with the market adoption of OpenNet's services.

OpenNet expects to complete the agreement contracting process with the IDA as planned, within the next seven months and expects that the Singapore-wide fibre grid will be completed by June 2012.

The company believes that when completed, OpenNet will provide Singapore with a “truly open, better and faster fibre-to-the-home network.”

This announcement is the first part of IDA's RFP process for a complete NGNBN. IDA said that the second part is the provision of active broadband services over the fibre grid.

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