Sunday 29 April 2018

No Competition for M1's Big Data Plans

Usually, the 3 local telcos are very competitive. Whenever 1 launches a new service, the other 2 will follow quickly. However, for the new big data plans that M1 launched in Aug 2017, the follow-ups have been fairly feeble. Starhub launched its unlimited weekend data plans immediately, but that came with additional monthly subscription fees of $5.10. Only Singtel came up with something close, offering a Data X Infinity add-on for unlimited data for additional $39.99 per month 2 weeks later. However, that add-on only applies to higher mobile plans. Let us look at the offerings from each telco.

Do note that M1's big data plans do not come with much talktime and SMS. All the big data plans (except for the most expensive one) have only 100 mins of talktime and 100 SMS. For extra talktime, there are add-ons that range from $5 (for extra 200 mins) to $15 (for unlimited talktime). These big data plans do not replace M1's more traditional mobile plans that have a balance of talktime, SMS and data. For Singtel and Starhub, there are no new mobile plans that are equivalent to M1's big data plans. They are just enhancing their existing mobile plans to add more data. Thus, the comparison below is not a like-for-like comparison. However, for users who use a lot of data, this comparison is relevant.

M1 Plans
mySIM 40 mySIM 70 mySIM 90 mySIM 118
Monthly Cost
$40.00 $70.00 $90.00 $118.00
Data (GB)
5 15 30 Unlimited

Singtel Plans Combo 1 Combo 2 Combo 3 Combo 6 Combo 12
Monthly Cost $27.90 $42.90 $68.90 $95.90 $239.90
Data (GB) 0.1 2 3 6 12
Data X2 Cost - $48.80 $74.80 $101.80 $245.80
Data X2 (GB) - 4 6 12 24
Data X3 Cost - $52.80 $78.80 $105.80 $249.80
Data X3 (GB) - 6 9 18 36
X Infinity Cost - - $108.80 $135.80 $279.80
X Infinity Data - - Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited

Starhub Plans XS S M L XL
Monthly Cost $48.00 $68.00 $88.00 $108.00 $238.00
Data (GB) 3 4 5 8 12
Plus 3 Cost $54.00 $74.00 $94.00 $114.00 $244.00
Plus 3 Data (GB) 6 7 8 11 15
DataJump Cost - $78.00 $98.00 $118.00 $248.00
DataJump Data (GB) - 9 15 23 32

At the low end of the spectrum, M1's plan for 5GB costs only $40 per month. Singtel's Combo 2 Plan with Data X2 add-on costs $48.80 (for 4GB) while Starhub's XS plan with Plus 3 add-on costs $54 (for 6GB). There is simply no competition at this end of the spectrum.

At the middle of the spectrum, M1's plan for 15GB costs $70. Singtel's Combo 6 plan with Data X2 add-on costs $101.80 (for 12GB) while Starhub's M plan with DataJump add-on costs $98 (for 15GB). Again, no competition.

At the high end with unlimited data, M1's plan costs $118. Singtel's Combo 3 plan with Data X Infinity add-on costs $108.80. Starhub has no credible response here. Although Starhub's plans offer unlimited data during weekends, they are not comparable to M1's and Singtel's unlimited data plans that are unlimited any time of the week. Thus, at this end of the spectrum, only Singtel is able to beat M1.

The figure below shows that subscribers are consuming more and more data. The average usage for M1 subscribers has risen from 3.2GB in 1Q2015 to 4.5GB in 1Q2018. The no. of subscribers who exceed their primary data bundle is also on the rise, from 20% in 1Q2015 to 29% in 1Q2018.  If this trend continues, and if the other 2 telcos do not start offering similar big data plans in the near term, M1 might grab a bigger share of the mobile services market.

Fig. 1: M1's data usage trend

P.S. I am vested in M1, Netlink Trust and Singtel.

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