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IDA fines Consistel for ‘grave misconduct’ over Sports Hub system

SINGAPORE — Systems integrator Consistel has been fined S$300,000 for falsifying documents and failing to seek approval from the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) before it transferred antenna operations in the Sports Hub to Consistel Sprint, a joint venture between Consistel’s parent company and Asia Networks.

The Singapore Sports Hub. Bloomberg file photo

The Singapore Sports Hub. Bloomberg file photo

SINGAPORE — Systems integrator Consistel has been fined S$300,000 for falsifying documents and failing to seek approval from the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) before it transferred antenna operations in the Sports Hub to Consistel Sprint, a joint venture between Consistel’s parent company and Asia Networks. 

The police is investigating the case, which the IDA described on Monday (Aug 15) as the “most serious instance of misconduct” brought to its attention so far.

Consistel — which built and hosts all wireless systems in the Sports Hub and leases these to mobile operators — was granted a licence by the IDA in March 2013, which is due for renewal in 2023. In June 2014, Consistel sought the IDA’s approval to transfer its licence to build, operate and maintain antenna systems inside the Sports Hub to Sprint. 

In November that year, it submitted a “draft business transfer agreement” to the IDA, which turned out to be a bogus document, the authority’s investigations found. It also discovered that Consistel had signed agreements to sell the system to Sprint in October 2013, and executed deeds to transfer its asset to Sprint in February 2014 before approaching the IDA for approval. 

In “deliberately” withholding the signed agreements despite repeated requests, and providing a false document instead, Consistel had misled the IDA into granting in-principle approval for its application. 

The in-principle approval is now void, and parties are now to confirm their business arrangement and re-obtain the IDA’s approval where necessary.

Ms Aileen Chia, IDA’s director-general (telecoms and post), noted the “serious nature of Consistel’s contraventions” given that it played an important role in providing mobile telco services at the Sports Hub, a building of “national significance”. 

She added that the authority expected “all licensees to conduct themselves with integrity, honesty and transparency when dealing with IDA” and “IDA takes the position that Consistel’s actions constitute grave misconduct by a licensee”.

Consistel’s managing director Ong Sing Jye told TODAY that it is doing an internal review and “considering all options, which includes appealing”.

Unlike other building developers who work directly with telcos to put up equipment carrying mobile signals, the Sports Hub’s exclusive deal with Consistel is the first of its kind here. This tie-up almost threatened to leave the Sports Hub, which opened in 2014, without coverage because telcos refused to pay the rents demanded by Consistel.

The IDA later stepped in to clarify that while exclusive arrangements are allowed, they should not “exempt” building owners or developers from giving other telecom licensees access to their premises. The three telcos declined to comment on the issue. Police also did not want to comment on ongoing investigations

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