M1 to Invest US$285M in 3G-Ready GSM Network

Mobile One Asia Pte. Ltd. (M1) will invest S$500 million (US$285 million) in building a 1.8GHz GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) network in Singapore which will also be ready to handle 3G (third-generation) traffic, the company announced Monday.

The investment will also include building a center for developing new products and services for advanced telecommunications systems, M1 said in a statement.

M1 already operates a CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) network in Singapore, but is being forced to close that operation as the spectrum that it uses is needed for Singapore's 3G mobile networks.

M1 must relinquish the CDMA spectrum by the end of 2001, and the GSM network will be ready by then, according to the statement. The company also confirmed that it will bid for a 3G license in Singapore in an auction scheduled for February next year.

The GSM network will be ready for 3G traffic as the base stations for the network can be adapted to support WCDMA (Wideband CDMA), M1's choice of next-generation technology, M1 said. Espoo, Finland-based Nokia Corp. will supply the network equipment, according to the statement.

M1 plans to migrate its 50,000 CDMA subscribers onto the GSM network, although it will face competition for its subscribers from rivals Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. and StarHub Pte. Ltd. In an attempt to stop its existing subscribers changing service providers, M1 said it will allow them to retain their CDMA tariff plans for as long as they remain on the M1 network.

In addition, CDMA customers moving to the new network will be able to return their CDMA handsets in exchange for free GSM handsets. They will also have the option of retaining their CDMA phone numbers, M1 said.

M1 is a consortium whose shareholders include Keppel Telecommunications & Transportation Ltd. (35 percent), Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. (35 percent), Cable & Wireless PLC (15 percent) and Pacific Century Cyberworks Ltd. (15 percent).http://www.m1.com.sg

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