StarHub and M1 are feeling the pressure from above and below

Credit: Sergey Nivens /

Singapore’s no.2 and no.3 telcos – StarHub and M1 – are feeling the pressure.

StarHub just published its financial results for 2016, revealing a drop in net profit for the year, from S$372 million ($262 million) – down 8% – to S$341 million due to decreases in revenue across its mobile and pay TV segments. StarHub’s revenue for mobile was down 2% year on year.

Broadband made gains during the year, however, rising by 8.2% from S$200.3 million to S$216.8 million in revenue despite a loss of 2,000 customers over the final quarter, down to 473,000. StarHub attributed the revenue gain and higher ARPU, which rose from S$34 to S$37, and to a greater number of customers on its fiber network, as well as on higher-speed cable plans.

M1 had similar numbers, reporting earlier in Jan $805.5 million in service revenue, a figure that was 2% lower than 2015. M1 derives its service revenue from three business segments: mobile services, fixed services, and international call services.

M1, however, is gaining subscribers. At the end of 2015, M1 recorded 733,000 prepaid subscribers and 1.2 million post-paid subscribers in its mobile services business. A year later, the number of prepaid subscribers increased by 39,000 to reach 772,000. Post-paid subscribers climbed by 52,000 to 1.25 million. StarHub ended 2016 with 920,000 pre-paid subscribers and 1.39 million post-paid subscribers.

Higher data usage has partly compensated for the fall in consumers’ usage of traditional mobile services. But data packages were a hotly contested space in 2016. Singtel, StarHub and M1 have been going head to head for some time trying outflank each other in the data wars.

Enter TPG…

Meanwhile, StarHub and M1 have signed an MoU to work more closely on infrastructure as competition is set to intensify with the upcoming entry of a fourth player: TPG Telecom.

The MoU enables both companies to collaborate further in shared mobile infrastructure with a focus on radio access networks. “For many years, M1 and StarHub Ltd have been sharing mobile infrastructure through mutual cooperation,” said a news release.

Australia’s TPG Telecom is preparing to enter the market with a services rollout target date of September 2018. TPG became Singapore’s fourth mobile operator after bidding S$105 million for 60 MHz of spectrum (20 MHz in the 900-MHz band and 40 MHz in the 2.3-GHz band) in December to offer LTE and LTE-A services.

Which means No.2 and No.3 will face competition from above (Singtel) and below (TPG).

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This article first appeared on PricingDataPlans

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