S’pore telcos may revise pricing of 3G packages

Xavier Lur

Telcos are considering cutting generous data caps, says a report. (AFP File Photo)

Some smartphone users in Singapore may see themselves paying more for data usage, as all mobile phone service providers here intend to review their existing 3G packages and may revise charges to deter massive usage by users, according to a report by investment firm Kim Eng.

The report, released on Monday, cited plans by local telcos to reduce generous data caps, scrap the current unlimited data option in 3G packages, and roll out more usage-based plans in the future.

The review comes after the ever-increasing adoption of instant messaging platforms and Voice over IP (VoIP) applications such as WhatsApp and Viber. Such tools allow mobile users to send text messages and make phone calls for free, thus eroding the need to pay for costly voice calls or SMS, the report noted.

A spokesperson for StarHub confirmed with Yahoo! Singapore that the company is indeed working on reviewing the price scheme for its data packages and may consider rolling out usage-based data pricing.

"We are reviewing current pricing plans and consider introducing usage-based data pricing to ensure optimal network quality for our customers," said Chan Kin Hung, StarHub's head of products and solutions.

"In addition, we will not offer unlimited mobile broadband plan on the Long Term Evolution (LTE) platform when we launch our LTE service, which is likely to take place in the second half of 2012," he added.

The revised charges, if skewed towards a pay-per-usage basis, will hit hard on customers who use a lot of data on a frequent basis. However, customers may see an improvement in network quality with the usage-based data pricing, as a lower data usage will be spread across the same amount of bandwidth.

StarHub is the only telco here that offers the unlimited data option to its customers, while packages by SingTel and M1 have a data cap of up to 50GB.

In 2009, M1 increased the data credit on its iPhone plans from 10GB to 12GB a month. At that time, both StarHub and SingTel were offering customers data packages with low data caps -- 1GB and 500MB respectively, according to iMerlion.