With the increasing amounts of consolidation amongst the internet service providers in the country, the Singaporean-based upstart MyRepublic believes it is the perfect time to launch to shake the status quo with its NBN plans – and force the incumbents to be more transparent about speed.
“I think it’s perfect time… there’s a lack of competition, with the consolidation we’ve seen in the marketplace in the last few years – the latest being between TPG and iiNet. What lack of competition means is lack of innovation,” Nicholas Demos, the managing director of MyRepublic in Australia, told TechGeek in an interview on Friday.
“That’s why the timing is right. I saw two ads here on buses today from some of the incumbents. You see their advertising and they’re just say ‘NBN ready’. It’s like they’ve taken their existing product and say it’s NBN ready. We like to think we are NBN built, and that’s why here to offer the customers the best.
“If you look at the stats, 80 percent are taking speeds of 25 [Mbps] or less, which shows you that: one, customers don’t know; and two, the incumbents are putting them into slower speeds. If you go to all the websites today, for most people it’s quite confusing – there are so many data caps and speed tiers. It’s so confusing.
“We’re saying don’t worry about that, we’ve have one product. We’ll give you the best of what you can get.”
That “best” will ultimately be based on what NBN technology is used in your area. According to MyRepublic, if you live in a fibre-connected home, you will get speeds up to 100Mbps. However, if you live in a ‘mixed technology’ (i.e. fibre-to-the-node) area, it will be up to 50Mbps.
MyRepublic will finally start selling services in Australia on November 15; and they are hoping that entrance in the Australian market will be similar to their experience in Singapore – with its CEO, Malcolm Rodrigues predicting that its rivals Telstra, Optus and TPG will start complaining before price matching.
“What you’ll find is when we launch, and you’ll get a lot of complaints from the other guys saying you can’t do this, you can’t do this. When we launched in Singapore, we started with six months free and they said ‘oh, they’re never going to keep it up, they can’t make money’.
“You’ll start to see the other guys to start to talk about speed. In three to six months, speed will be part of the dialogue; and they’ll grudgingly do it. They don’t want you to know they actually screwed you over. That when you switched over, they confuse you with your data cap and give you the slowest speed.
“Then you’ll start to see them move their pricing to match ours or get close to ours.”
While they are fine to admit they are not going to get a huge market share for its services – it currently has a five percent market share in Singapore – it believes that it will mean better transparency within the industry.
“We’re not here to take 40 percent market share and put people out of business. Generally, our game plans calls for getting five percent market share. But we believe that we clean up the industry and people become more transparent on what they’re doing – people talk about speed, people will lower their prices and you get more value.”
NBN Co “had tricked and lied to the public”
MyRepublic announced they were coming to Australia in 2015, but will finally start selling services next Tuesday. According to Rodrigues, the company had hired a team last year and investigated the possibility of launching within three months. However, their team came back and said they had no meaningful data.
“They came back and said ‘we’ve been talking to NBN, they have no data.’ They were telling people they got 1.5 million homes passed, but looks like they got 450,000 that are were actually connected,” Rodrigues said.
“The public data and the actual facts were all over the place.”
Rodrigues also famously described the NBN as a “shit network” – the very same network that MyRepublic will be using to serve its new customers. In our interview, he elaborated on why he was so angry with the NBN.
“It’s like saying, ‘I’m going to sell you a Ferrari’ and then later on, ‘Well, I can’t give you a Ferrari, so I’m going to give you a Toyota.’ No, you sold me a Ferrari, I paid for a Ferrari, I want the Ferrari
“I was upset because they had tricked and lied to the public. They were going to still spend a lot of money. At least the original guys were going to spend a lot of money and give you what they promised you. The other guys were going to spend a little less money and give you something different.”
He’s also keen to stress that he’s happy with NBN Co now, with the issues that prevented it from starting up in the country now resolved.
“Today, they have come a long way… it’s still mixed technology, but at least they can actually tell you this neighbourhood will have fibre, and this neighbourhood will have fibre to the node,” Rodrigues told us.
However, while they are fine with working with the ‘shit’ mixed technology network currently being rolled out by NBN Co, they are still massive believers of an all fibre network.
“We still believe the mixed technology model is wrong and will lobby – and continue to lobby – to have that changed.”
A network for gamers
MyRepublic was at PAX Australia to announce its new GAMER NBN plan, engineered to deal with a litany of issues that Australian gamers face when playing online – such as data caps, connection instability, slow upload speeds and low latency. The GAMER plan will feature unlimited data and – because it is on the NBN – should have higher upload speeds compared to ADSL.
In order to provide low latency for gamers, MyRepublic does a couple of things internally and externally. Within its network, all those on the GAMER NBN plan will be on its own seperate network, and the company does do a deep packet inspection on all traffic to ‘prioritise’ video game traffic. MyRepublic, when pressed on the issue of privacy concerns because of the use of deep packet inspection, says they only look at the headers and not the content.
Outside the network, they create a ‘custom route’ to several gaming servers designed to reduce the amount of hops required. Currently, they have custom routes for World of Warcraft, Hears of the Storm, Starcraft, League of Legends, Dota 2, The Division, Tree of Savior, and Overwatch. All of those statistics for those routes are published online.
Rodrigues predicts some of its competitors will launch their own ‘gaming’ plan, but he believes they will not be able to compete.
“Some [of our competitors] will launch a gamer product, but they have no idea what they’re doing. Their gamer product will be you sign up for $69 and we’ll give you a Razer mouse. It’ll have nothing to do with performance or latency.”
1Gbps ‘standard’ is not coming to Australia
While MyRepublic offers speeds of up to 1Gbps in Singapore, Indonesia and New Zealand, they have confirmed they will not be offering 1Gbps speeds to Australian customers – despite the fact that the NBN does support such speeds and that they believe that all customers should get 1Gbps speeds.
Their reasoning? It costs too much to provide such a service, according to Rodrigues.
“We launched 1Gbps in all of those countries, and is considered the standard product [within our company].
“The 1Gbps is available here but is too expensive. It’s like $150 a month, so we’re not going to offer it.”
Such comments does line up with what other NBN analysts have said in the past. Kenneth Tsang, who has written extensively on the NBN, says the reason why it is cost-prohibitive to provide gigabit services is because the wholesale pricing to ISPs is set “at an artificially high price” so NBN Co has enough revenue.
MyRepublic also “looking” at ADSL services
While NBN is now in more than a million homes, a lot of its potential customers (i.e. gamers) do not live in the suburbs or towns where it has already been rolled out. While they ruled out providing services for residential customers on another fibre network like TPG, MyRepublic have said they could potentially expand into ADSL services.
“I think we will have ADSL plans, part of it because the NBN just not pervasive. We want to capture some customers, so we will look into ADSL,” Rodrigues said.
Customers who would be on their potential ADSL service would get automatically get upgraded to MyRepublic’s NBN plan when it is rolled out to their area.