Former New Zealand Regional Fibre Group CEO Vaughan Baker is heading MyRepublic, a new UFB-only ISP that expects to start operating by the middle of the year.
Baker says MyRepublic will shake up New Zealand’s broadband market and stimulate fibre demand. He says the company has already done the same in its home country Singapore. MyRepublic launched there in 2011 and is already the nation’s fourth largest ISP.
That’s important because we’re three years – about a third of the way – into the Ultrafast Broadband roll-out and fibre uptake remains low. Baker says if New Zealand wants to get the economic and social benefits of the investment in the network, we need to get people using it.
He says: “Most current broadband retailers are not serious about promoting fibre services – they still make plenty of money from copper. We, on the other hand, are unencumbered by legacy. it means we can do things differently”.
What might that mean in practice? Baker says for example, that in Singapore MyRepublic offers a 1 Gbps fibre service at a mass market price.
Could he do similar in New Zealand? He says maybe not straight away, but it’s in his sights.
At first Baker’s focus is to be more user-oriented than existing ISPs. He says at the moment customers have to wait too long to get a UFB connection. MyRepublic aims to “engage with the wholesalers and bring customers to the front of the queue”.
MyRepublic promises a superior voice over IP service that Baker says will look and feel like a landline.
New Zealand is MyRepublic’s first venture outside of its native Singapore. Baker says the company is privately owned and lists both Singaporean and New Zealand investors. There are plans to offer services in Australia once that country decides how to progress with its NBN on replacement network.
What are the company’s chances of success in New Zealand and can it repeat its Singapore experience of climbing from nowhere to fourth place in three years?
You’d expect Baker to be confident and he is. He also offers an interesting perspective on the market saying there’s always an opportunity in telecommunications markets when there’s a significant change such as exchange unbundling or the toll market opening up: “A 30 percent wedge opens up as customer flee from incumbents”.
MyRepublic is also busy forming partnerships. Baker says a number are being discussed right and we can expect to see distribution deals and new product offerings.
Baker says MyRepublic is due to start selling in the middle of the year: “I started last Monday and we’re ramping up. We’re going fast compared to other ISPs, but it could still take six months. If we’re ready earlier we’ll go to market.”