Singapore-owned, fibre-only ISP sets up shop in NZ

Singapore-owned internet service provider MyRepublic has set up shop in NZ, and says it will offer fibre-only plans from mid-year.

The NZ subsidiary will be managed by Vaughan Baker - until recently head of IT outsourcing at Vodafone.

Beyond the motivation of having no copper broadband revenue to fall back on, Mr Baker says "we will offer a superior customer experience, innovative products and services for a reasonable price" although he's yet to detail pricing and plans.

Mr Baker is best-known as the CEO of the Regional Fibre Group - the coalition of lines companies, power companies and fibre network operators, led by Vector, that mounted an unsuccessful nationa bid for the UFB rollout. In the event, Chorus won most of the country, but Regional Fibre Group members Enable (Christchurch), Northpower (Whangarei) and Wel Networks (Hamilton, Tauranga) won pockets of the country. 

MyRepublic - credited with lowering broadband prices after it started up in Singapore - is pitching itself as a fibre-only ISP and plans to deliver products and services specifically designed for the UFB network.

Just 14,248 customers have signed up to UFB services of the 322,479 able to connect as at Sept. 30, and MyRepublic is aiming to grab market share while it's still unclaimed.

"From an industry perspective, legacy copper networks are much more profitable, which explains why incumbent providers aren't encouraging customers to move to fibre," Mr Baker. "It's up to us to introduce greater competition, to offer attractive services at affordable prices and help fibre really take off."

In a 2012 report on demand-side drivers for ultrafast broadband services, the Commerce Commission identified access to content, data cap charges and the cost of connecting as likely to influence uptake.

More recently, telecommunications network operator Chorus, which is building the bulk of the UFB, has argued that cuts to its regulated copper line service prices will undermine migration to fibre by making the older technology a cheaper alternative.

Mr Baker said the uptake of fibre services has been slow relative to the roll-out of the network, following a similar pattern seen in Singapore.

Since the company entered the Singapore market, fibre pricing has dropped, and the company this year launched 1 gigabit per second services in the Asian city-state.

MyRepublic is expected to charge based on the speed of its services, rather than using data caps, which is the norm in the local market, and anticipates this will be attractive to content providers.

Mr Baker tells NBR MyRepublic will work with all four UFB companies - Chorus, Enable, Northpower Fibre and Wel Netorks' Ultrafast Fibre.

He has yet to comment on customer or market share targets.

He says local investors will come onboard (the Companies Office lists MyRepublic NZ as a fully-owned subsidiary) but he has yet to name them.

ckeall@nbr.co.nz


POSTSCRIPT

It's not directly useful to checkout MyRepublic's plans in Singapore, given the city state has a different network setup and wholesale pricing regime, but if you're curious its home page is here. But for the record it offers up to 500Mbit/s upload and 1000Mbit/s (or 1Gibt/s) download from $S49/month with no BitTorrent blocking. ($S49 = $NZ51). 

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8 Comments & Questions

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I use My Republic in Singapore. The service is pretty good so far, solid connection, stable speeds, monthly bill to credit card and no locked-in contract with unwanted bundling, unlike the legacy operator.

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So the current providers want copper because it is more profitable? I thought they were claiming they could hardly make ends meet. As soon as people get used to data caps disappearing and more TV / movies on demand coming on line, the country as a whole will finally benefit from the large investment the nation has made in UFB.

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I would be happy to take up fibre, if it was offered to my home. Some areas around Chch have it, others have at least a schedule for a rollout, but there is no information for where I live. Why is it taking Enable so long to get things done?

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"It's not directly useful to checkout MyRepublic's plans in Singapore, given the city state has a different network setup and wholesale pricing regime, but if you're curious its home page is here. But for the record it offers up to 500Mbit/s upload and 1000Mbit/s (or 1Gibt/s) download from $S49/month with no BitTorrent blocking. ($S49 = $NZ51). "

Just to further add context to some readers, Singapore has the population cap similar to NZ but on a total country land mass the size of lake taupo (basically imagine all of NZ crammed up on a recovered island the size lake Taupo) - the population density to coverage area of 1km is much greater than NZ hence why lower broadband prices of $51 per month is possible.

I think My Republic will do well in NZ but kiwi's shouldnt be to 'price shocked' if their competitive pricing is still higher than their parent company in Singapore.

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sorry, to further clarify my above point:

According to Index Mundi statistics, New Zealand has a population density of only 16.17 people per sq kilometer compared to Singapore which has 7,680 people per sq kilometer.

Basically, more people in an area can have a direct impact for cheaper infrastructure and utilities pricing

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Totally agree with point. As noted in the main story, NZ is a different market to Singapore. Thanks for the extra context.

Beyond that, more competition is good, so it's great to see a new market entrant - especially one with an exclusive focus on fibre.

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The argument that copper pricing regulations will undermine the migration to new fibre has always run soft, especially when we have less than a 5% migration rate anyway. From a financial perspective, the service provider needs an incentive to shift consumers from one platform to the other and as long as copper prices are high that shift won't happen. Because MyRepublic has no copper products in the marketplace you can be certain that consumers will know when they can shift to the new service and will have a clearly differentiated product to choose from.

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Finally, something that would truely make every Kiwi internet user better off, as well as using the fibre network close to its full potential. Nothing beats free market economics. I think it makes sence for Chorus to charge a higher copper price once fibre is rolled into an area to even further facilitate the transition.

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