Singapore-headquartered internet service provider, MyRepublic, has launched in Australia, a move the company’s CEO, Malcolm Rodrigues, expects to prompt local telecommunications providers to change the way they do business within months.
“Within 60 days, we’ll start to see the others change their approach,” Rodrigues told ARN.
Rodrigues’s prediction comes as the company launches its services in the local market, two years after launching in New Zealand, and five years after it launched its first 100 Mbps service in its home market, Singapore.
The Australian launch has been a long time coming, with Rodrigues and his team watching closely as the government and nbn, the company building the National Broadband Network (NBN) in Australia, refined the technology behind the network’s controversial rollout.
The company is inserting itself into the local broadband market with a fixed-price unlimited data product, promising speeds of up to 100Mbps, depending on what it can squeeze out of the technology being used at individual locations by its Australian network partner, nbn.
Due to the nature of the government’s multi technology mix (MTM) rollout of the NBN, which includes tapping into existing copper cable and hybrid fibre-coaxial connections to hook up homes and businesses to the NBN, speed and performance can vary from one premises to the next.
However, Rodrigues and his team in Australia believe that the company’s offering is such a departure from the current NBN products provided by existing ISPs in Australia, in terms of price and performance, that the nation’s incumbents will quickly change their own offerings.
This is a trend Rodrigues claims to have seen before, first in Singapore, then in New Zealand.
“We see it everywhere we go,” he said.
Certainly, the company’s experience in New Zealand, a market it entered in 2014, stands as a reliable precedent for how the Australian market might respond to its local introduction.
“We bypassed a product or two in New Zealand,” MyRepublic New Zealand managing director, Vaughan Baker, told ARN. “They [the network providers] had some ‘copper equivalent’ fibre; we bypassed that, and launched 100 [Mbps] unlimited plans. And we’ve shaped the market there.
“Now the big guys have moved to the unlimited plans; they’ve moved away from selling the 30 [Mbps] product, and now 100 [Mbps] dominates.
"Just last month, we launched 1 [Gbps] nationwide, because we lobbied the nbn equivalents in New Zealand around giving us a good wholesale price.
"Now, we’re the first nationwide provider of gigabit [per second] services in New Zealand."
According to Baker, the Australian market is set to go the same way with MyRepublic helping to push up consumer expectations, suggesting that nbn may eventually lower or even scrap its Connectivity Virtual Circuit (CVC) pricing to meet market demands.
For MyRepublic Australia’s managing director, Nicholas Demos, the limited selection of NBN products the incumbent ISVs in Australia, such as Telstra and Optus, are offering do not truly represent the full capabilities of the network they tap into.
“The incumbents have just taken their existing products, and said ‘they’re NBN ready’ and just put them across. Which is why you see 80 per cent of customers take the speed of 25 [Mbps] or less,” Demos told ARN.
“What we’re doing in Australia is what we’ve done everywhere else; we want to give people the best they can experience. If you can get 100 [Mbps], we’ll give you that.
"We’re not going to have base plans like everyone else. We’re going to simplify it to give you the best you can get."
However, the top speed of 100 Mbps is not guaranteed, with Demos conceding that some network connection technology, such as fibre-to-the-node (FttN) will result in much lower top speeds.
“We look at the technology," he said. "If you’ve got fibre-to-the-premises (FttP) at your place, we’ll give you the speed of 100 [Mbps]. If it’s fibre-to-the-node (FttN), maybe you can up to 50 [Mbps]."
However, MyRepublic is convinced it will be able to offer Australia a better NBN experience than any ISP has so far managed, for a better price.
According to Rodrigues, it's all down to the underlying technology being used by country’s existing ISPs.
“The incumbents, they have a certain way they’ve approached it for the last five to 10 years,” he said.
“The NBN comes, but the other parts have remained the same. Telstra, for example, has a network built for email, not for video streaming, or high-speed peer-to-peer internet activity. And all they do is they switch that last mile.
“So where we’re innovating is from a network perspective. We’ve learned things in Singapore, we’ve learned things in New Zealand, and we’re bringing those [to Australia]. Every step along the way on that network-to-network experience, we change what that service looks like."
It remains to be seen whether MyRepublic’s introduction to the local market will encourage the country’s existing ISPs to change their ways. Australia’s largest telco, Telstra, represents a leviathan incumbent for the newcomer to challenge.
The latest quarterly report on the NBN wholesale sales by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission revealed that Telstra accounts for almost half of the country’s wholesale access services.
And it appears that most of its customers are opting for the ground-level product offering of 25 Mbps, with nbn’s own figures suggesting that the lower speed is by far and away the most popular option, despite the availability of 50 Mbps and 100 Mbps products.
Certainly, Rodrigues and team hope that MyRepublic's launch in the local market will quickly change consumer expectations, increasing the Australian appetite for faster services, and prompting local ISPs to change their ways.