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StarHub to implement 1-min minimum charge for local calls

SINGAPORE — From next month, StarHub customers who make calls lasting less than a minute will have to pay more than what they are paying now. The telco will implement a “one-minute minimum charge” for local calls from May 1. After the first minute, talk time will be billed on a per-second basis.

StarHub customers are currently charged 8 cents for a 30-sec call. Photo: Reuters

StarHub customers are currently charged 8 cents for a 30-sec call. Photo: Reuters

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SINGAPORE — From next month, StarHub customers who make calls lasting less than a minute will have to pay more than what they are paying now. The telco will implement a “one-minute minimum charge” for local calls from May 1. After the first minute, talk time will be billed on a per-second basis.

Regardless of the actual talk time, each call lasting less than a minute will be charged 16.05 cents — the same flat fee that rival telco SingTel charges for the first minute of outgoing calls. The third telco, M1, charges outgoing calls on a per-second basis.

Currently, a StarHub customer would be charged about 8 cents for a 30-second call, for instance, compared to 16.05 cents which he will have to pay under the new billing method. Nevertheless, with the change, customers will not experience higher charges for calls lasting more than a minute.

In response to TODAY’s queries, Mr Tian Ung Ping, StarHub’s Assistant Vice-President of Mobile Post-paid Services, noted that the telco has been billing its mobile post-paid customers on a per second basis “for the past 13 years”. He said: “Amid rising costs of network maintenance, upgrade and expansion, we decided against increasing our call rates and to implement a one-minute minimum charge.”

Mr Tian said StarHub had updated its website earlier this month to inform customers of the new billing method. Mobile post-paid customers will also be notified of the change through a notice in their next three bills starting this month, he said.

Customers who have signed up or renewed their mobile price plans recently were also informed.

Frost & Sullivan Managing Director Manoj Menon said StarHub’s new billing method would impact customers who do not utilise data services.

Increasingly, consumers with smartphones prefer to use chat programs such as WhatsApp, instead of making short phone calls, he said.

“Consumers at the lower end of the spectrum will see the biggest impact and will have to watch their bills,” he said, adding that StarHub’s move was made in a bid to “mitigate some revenue loss”.

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