TELCOs – BT

SingTel, M1 square off with new mobile plans

TO SUSTAIN customers’ insatiable appetite for mobile phones during the downturn, Singapore Telecom is dishing out three new subscription packages with all-you-can-eat data buffets. And rival MobileOne is giving free phones and will let you swap your handset for a new model after just nine months.

SingTel’s new plans – 3G Flexi Lite, 3G Flexi and 3G Flexi Plus – aim to get handset users to gobble up more data on the go through Web surfing and e-mailing.

By paying $39-$95 a month you can surf to your heart’s content as the packages come with an unlimited six-month data bundle on top of the usual outgoing voice minutes and SMS combo.

However, the data buffet is only available if you take up the new HTC Dream – the handset dubbed the Google phone because it is powered by the search giant’s mobile operating system.

You will have to fork out $38-$238 for a Dream if you opt for one of the new 3G Flexi plans – provided you trade in a phone with a value of $200.

As previously reported by BT, SingTel has signed an exclusive deal with Taiwanese phonemaker HTC to retail the Dream, much like its agreement with Apple for the iPhone.

But SingTel’s rivals aim to make sure it does not have the edge for too long. StarHub and M1 are already in talks with HTC to bring in newer versions of the Google device.

The data bundle offered with the Dream is more generous than that offered with SingTel’s iPhone when it was launched last August. At that time the company only threw in a time-limited 1GB (gigabyte) mobile data bundle with the touch-screen handset, which is said to be its best-selling phone ever.

Not to be outdone, rival M1 took the wraps off a new mobile plan yesterday that allows you to exchange your phone much earlier than usual.

Usually you are locked into a 24-month contract and can only upgrade your phone or get a new one free at the tail end of the contract.

Under M1’s new Take3 programme – extended to all its subscription packages that cost more than $19.26 a month – you can choose from a range of free handsets to go with your plan. And instead of having to see out your contract, you can swap your phone from the ninth month on.

The tit-for-tat battle between SingTel and M1 is a further sign of Singapore’s increasingly cutthroat mobile market. Since the start of mobile number portability (MNP) last year, operators have been using exclusive handset deals and creative subscription bundles to entice people to defect, now that they are free to carry over their phone number.

According to the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, about 6,000 subscribers a month are making use of MNP to port their mobile numbers between operators.

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