New Singapore Telcos Start Bickering

SINGAPORE (08/09/2000) - New telecommunications company StarHub Pte. Ltd. and MobileOne Asia Pte. Ltd. (M1) have terminated a resale agreement under which M1's mobile customers gained access to StarHub's discounted 008-branded international call services.

The companies fell out while trying to negotiate a similar resale agreement for StarHub's new I-Call 018 international Internet telephony service.

M1 blocked its customers from using I-Call 018, prompting StarHub on Tuesday to cancel all resale agreements between the two companies. Now StarHub will talk directly to M1's customers to try and get them to use both 008 and I-Call 018, according to a StarHub statement.

This marks the first open spat between rivals of powerful incumbent Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (SingTel) since the telecommunications market here was liberalized in April.

Unlike other Internet telephony services in Singapore, I-Call 018 runs on a privately-managed StarHub network rather than on the public network, providing better service levels, StarHub said. It was introduced a month ago, and is one of a series of low-cost offerings made by StarHub and SingTel since April which have seen the cost of international telecommunications here fall by as much as 80 percent. Calls to the U.S. from Singapore now cost S$0.276 (16 US cents) per minute.

StarHub will launch a broadband IP (Internet Protocol) network in Singapore by the third quarter of the year.

StarHub is jointly owned by the Singapore Technologies Group (34.5 percent), Singapore Power Ltd. (25.5 percent), Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp. (22 percent) and British Telecommunications PLC (18 percent).

StarHub can be reached at +65-880-5167 or on the Web at http://www.starhub.com.sg/.

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