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Customers fume as MyRepublic falls short of promise

SINGAPORE — MyRepublic’s promise of a high-speed 1Gbps fibre broadband plan at only S$49.99 a month, several times cheaper than similar plans from other retail service providers, wowed Internet users when it was launched in January.

Customers fume as MyRepublic falls short of promise

MyRepublic said the installation delays were partly due to the huge number of sign-ups and upgrades to 1Gbps. TODAY file photo

SINGAPORE — MyRepublic’s promise of a high-speed 1Gbps fibre broadband plan at only S$49.99 a month, several times cheaper than similar plans from other retail service providers, wowed Internet users when it was launched in January.

Now, customers are launching brickbats at the company, one of the retail service providers for the ultra-high-speed Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network (NGNBN).They flooded forums such as Hardwarezone and MyRepublic’s Facebook page with their complaints, accusing the firm of installation delays and being unresponsive to their requests for service updates.

In response to TODAY’s queries yesterday, Mr Lawrence Chan, MyRepublic’s Head of Product, acknowledged that the delays were partly due to the huge number of sign-ups and upgrades to 1Gbps, but declined to give an exact figure. However, he put most of the blame on OpenNet, builder of the NGNBN, for the delays.

Mr Yong Boon Leong, 40, who signed up in mid-January, said he had to contact MyRepublic several times, with the company denying its obligation to call him by the end of February till he showed them the screenshot of its promised timeline. He pursued the firm till the end of last month to no avail and decided to cancel his contract, but was informed that there would be a S$297 fee.

“It seems the firm started signing up subscribers for the 1Gbps plan well before the service is ready. Subsequent delays were not communicated to me via email or phone,” said Mr Yong.

Mr Chan said the firm has strengthened its customer service and social media teams to address communication issues. He added that about 1,000 installations had been done and those who signed up in January and February are expected to have received appointment calls by now. Installations are expected to be completed this month, barring exceptions such as OpenNet delays, he said.

Other customers would have their installations by May, he added. He criticised OpenNet resources and infrastructure, most notably the lack of a second fibre line in most homes.

“Because of the lack of a second line, customers who are already with a fibre broadband provider will likely encounter delays when switching between fibre broadband providers. The most direct way to deal with this is to wait for OpenNet to install the second fibre line, which can take weeks.”

Responding to MyRepublic’s comments, Mr Daniel Ho, Director of Business Development and Communications at OpenNet, put the problem down to two issues.

He said OpenNet has to install additional network resources for every requesting licensee — MyRepublic is only one of five — and these cannot be shared among the licensees.

The second issue arises when a user switches to MyRepublic from another service provider and a new fibre connection is requested. When this happens, OpenNet has to put in a temporary line for the new provider before the existing service is terminated. This results in a shortage of fibre and is also time-consuming, he added.

A spokesman for the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) said the industry regulator would monitor OpenNet’s service delivery and take enforcement action if it fails to meet minimum quality-of-service standards.

“OpenNet is required to roll out two fibre lines to each home, but only one line needs to be connected to OpenNet’s back-end network from Day 1. This is because a typical home usually does not require two concurrent fibre services from Day 1,” he said.

“There is no disagreement between OpenNet and the IDA on this point. The IDA is aware of this issue and has required OpenNet to take steps to improve its performance. OpenNet has introduced Fibre Takeover processes to address the situation and is looking to enhance the process to make the handover between operators more seamless.

“On the other hand, it is also the responsibility of any telecoms service provider, including MyRepublic, to make sure the necessary resources to enable the new services are properly secured before their launch,” he added.

Consumer watchdog CASE stressed that the onus is on MyRepublic to deliver what it has promised “whatever the reasons”, with affected consumers having the right to seek a full refund if the company is unable to fulfil its promise.

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