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Telco shares dip as TPG offers free unlimited data roaming in Malaysia, Indonesia

Stanislaus Jude Chan

SINGAPORE (June 26): TPG Telecom has fired another salvo in a bid to pry users away from incumbent telcos Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel), StarHub and M1.

From the middle of next month, TPG says it will offer its mobile users with free unlimited data roaming in Malaysia and Indonesia.

While roaming, users will also be able to make unlimited calls to Singapore mobile numbers and have up to 20 minutes for calls to Singapore fixed-line numbers. All incoming calls and SMS will be free.

TPG launched its mobile service in Singapore this year. So far, some 200,000 users have signed up for its year-long trial, which will end in December.

“These two countries are two of the top travel destinations for Singaporeans due to their proximity, so many of our customers will be able to save and break away from existing high roaming charges,” said TPG executive chairman David Teoh in a statement on Tuesday.

"These are just one of the many product enhancements we are launching so our customers can always stay connected and benefit from our service," he added.

TPG in 2016 won the bid to become Singapore's fourth mobile operator, beating out contender MyRepublic with a winning bid of $105 million in the New Entrant Spectrum Auction (NESA).

It currently offers a SIM-only plan that includes unlimited data and unlimited mobile-to-mobile calls. However, data at 4G speeds is capped at 2GB daily, after which surfing speed will be limited to 1Mbps for the remainder of the day.

TPG had been expected to roll out its services in December last year. But the launch was delayed to January 2019, despite TPG saying it was on track to meet its outdoor-coverage milestones set by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).

See: TPG's entry delayed but still remains a threat to Singapore telcos

Following the eventual launch of its “expectedly aggressive” trial in January this year, analysts say competition in Singapore’s telecommunications sector is expected to remain elevated.

However, some observers have pointed out that it remains to be seen whether TPG’s network could match the vastly superior 4G networks of the incumbents.

For instance, RHB Research noted that TPG in July last year reported cash capex of only $66.7 million for its mobile rollout in Singapore – far below its guidance of $200-300 million made in late 2016.

As at 1.30pm on Wednesday, shares in SingTel are trading 0.6% lower at $3.46 while shares in StarHub are trading 0.7% down at $1.54.