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MyRepublic launches in NZ with Netflix-friendly 'Fibre TV' feature

Singapore-owned ISP will be all UFB, all of the time. MD says it's on the hunt for acquisitions, and investors. 

Fri, 10 Oct 2014

After a period of fewer and fewer ISPs, as the market consolidates, New Zealand has a new contender.

MyRepublicNZ officially launched last night. It's a fully owned subsidiary of the Singapore ISP of the same name — which does have a Kiwi connection in that MyRepublic MD Vaughan Baker is a cornerstone investor in MyRepublic Singapore (which has scored 25,000 customers and annual revenues of about $15 million since launching in 2012).

The new ISP's point of difference is that it's fibre-only. There's no copper broadband revenue to fall back on. It's all UFB, all of the time.

Baker, who has previously held management roles at Vodafone NZ, Voco and Fonterra, says his company is not short on ambition.

It's also planning launches in Australia and Malaysia.

On the local front, he says it made a bid for Orcon. It dipped out there (the ex-Kordia ISP was ultimately bought by CallPlus in a deal insiders said was worth north of $30 million, including taking care of debt).

Looking for acquisitions, and investors
But MyRepublic's cheque book is still out. "We are looking to acquire at least one business in Singapore before end of the year, and will look to acquire in New Zealand next year."

Baker is also looking for New Zealanders who want to invest in the privately-held MyRepublic. 

"Earlier this year Xavier Niel, the founder of Free in France — currently bidding for T-Mobile — invested, as did SinarMas, Indonesia’s largest multinational corporation.  We are looking for further strategic and institutional investors for this round."

Orcon's customers, like those of any ISP, were mostly on copper. So what would have been the plan there, or for the customers of any acquisition target?

"A planned migration to fibre as quickly as possible," Baker says. "Anybody left who was still wedded to their legacy copper would be sold to somebody like CallPlus."

Beyond acquisitions, Baker sees huge potential. On Monday, MyRepublic will begin TV ads starring William Shatner. 

According to the government's latest numbers, released in August, only 39,510 customers (or 7.7%) of the 517,000 premises now within reach of the UFB have chosen to sign up to plan.

Many have lamented such poor uptake, but for Baker it just looks like massive upside. Unlike other ISPs, MyRepublic has no copper laurels to sit on. It'll be aggressively pushing to move those half million onto fibre.

MyRepublic's plans
My Republic NZ is working with all the Local Fibre Companies (Chorus, Enable, Ultrafast Fibre and NorthPower) and is launching in all UFB areas nationwide (though as of today there are still a few i's to dot and t's to cross in three towns: Whangarei, Levin and Greymouth).

All plans are fibre, and all have unlimited data, and three-month free-trial periods are on offer (Baker is gambling that once you have a taste for his fibre, you won't want to go back).

There are two consumer plans: Pure ($99), aimed at games (offering 100Mbit/s down and 20Mbit/s up) and Gamer, which offers 100Mbit/s down and 50Mbit/s up) with optimisation for gaming and HD video streaming.

That means MyRepublic — which offers a 1 gigabit/s for around $NZ50 in Singapore — is not the fastest game in town in NZ.

But Baker claims it allocates more international bandwidth per user than any other ISP and has "optimised routes" to offshore content services. 

Speaking of which, MyRepublic is offering a feature its billing as "Fibre TV". This add-on (free for now but valued at $15 a month) means MyRepublic customers will seamlessly skirt the geoblock restrictions on Netflix, Hulu, and other movie and TV download services usually blocked to New Zealanders. MyRepublic joines CallPlus, which has already introduced a geoblock buster for customers on its Slingshot and Orcon brands — provoking a sharp reaction from tradtional broadcasters, who banned an ad mentioning the technology.

On both the residential plans you also get free local calls and 500 minutes a month of national calling, valued at $10, free for the moment.

For business customers, there are plans from $199 ranging up to 200Mbit/s200Mbit/s down speed.

Plans up to 1 gigabit/s (the maximum allowed by the UFB) are on the agenda (we've seen a little bit of action here, but most ISPs are waiting for the pan-industry Telecommunications Carriers Forum to come up with common nationwide standards, which are due in the New Year).

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MyRepublic launches in NZ with Netflix-friendly 'Fibre TV' feature