National Broadband Network (NBN) In Singapore Bringing New Thinking Of Selling Consumer Services

I was in Singapore two weeks ago and had the chance to meet Malcolm Rodrigues and Greg Mittman from an emerging broadband service provider called MyRepublic. MyRepublic is a new service-based operator (SBO) licensed in Singapore in 2011, purpose-built for Singapore’s national broadband network (NBN). Since the launch of the NBN service in Singapore, it has created new opportunities for SBOs to lease the network from OpenNet, the company that operates the NBN in Singapore and sell high-speed fiber broadband services to consumers and businesses in the island country. And MyRepublic is one of the most interesting companies I have seen, with an innovative business/go-to-market model that:

  • Has an operational model based on light assets. Leveraging the NBN network and a neutral operation company, MyRepublic is able to get access to the nationwide fiber broadband network at the same price as other established telecom operators in Singapore, including the incumbent SingTel. It only needs to put its own gateways and other limited network assets at OpenNet for service provisioning, network monitoring, billing, etc.
  • Differentiates service packages by the application usage model, not just speed. One of the key advantages of the NBN is the network speed. With the same network leased from the NBN operator, there is little differentiation if the service providers are using the same old model of selling services with different connection speeds (bandwidth). In the old model, operators have to struggle through with their triple-play bundles or simply offer a more competitive pricing scheme.  As the new entrant, MyRepublic has introduced three distinct service packages based on 100-Mbps fiber broadband services, namely Pure, Gamer, and Tutor. For the different packages, it optimized the traffic from subscribers for video (Pure) and gaming (Gamer) traffic and also included some educational resources for the Tutor plan. With the data optimization performed by MyRepublic’s network equipment, it will be able to offer a better customer experience for various usage behaviors.  It will allow MyRepublic to differentiate from incumbent players and charge a premium price for the service.
  • Leverages social networks as its channels. With MyRepublic’s Facebook page, it is getting fans to know better about its service offerings and differentiators. At the same time, it has initiated an insurance agent-like model to promote its services through consumers themselves. Consumers can recommend the service to their friends and family members and earn a commission based on any successful deals. MyRepublic has already started some initial trial and training programs, and the response has been positive.

NBN will bring a whole new business model to operators. When the ubiquitous network is no longer a differentiator for any operator, existing market players will have to learn new ways to compete, maintain their existing customer base, and recruit new customers. For new entrants, new business models and go-to-market strategies are probably very powerful weapons for them to gain market momentum. New thinking and innovative ways to access consumers is needed to win in this market.

From my conversation, I understand that MyRepublic is aiming to achieve a market share in Singapore in the high single digits within the next couple of years, and expand the same model to other countries with NBN opportunities, such as Australia, New Zealand, and Malaysia.