Telco “Wars” : The M1/StarHub Unlimited Data

I am not so sure what has happened. After my last post on re-contracting versus non-contract argument, somehow the whole internet-sphere (just Singapore lah) exploded. Starhub comes up with an unlimited data for Weekend use and M1 did it with an “Unlimited” Deal.

Of course, I can’t take the credit for the explosion because COMEX is this weekend (31 Aug – 3 Sep 2017). For what it is worth, our Telco friends (minus SingTel, not surprised) has decided to at least have some promotion during this time.

I will just quickly go through what our friends are up to.

 

M1: mySIM3 98 Unlimited

Orange camp decided to respond with the mySIM plans, basically you just get SIM card. The benefit is Free Unlimited Talktime add-on (wry smile), Unlimited Data, 100 SMS. That’s it. That’s what I am reading at the page. Nothing being said about free incoming call etc.

 

 

So I proceed to read the fine print and this is what I will highlight.

  • MUST be new line. Must commit to 1 Month (fair)
  • MUST sign 12 months contract
  • SMS at 5.35 cents each.
  • Free Talktime promo valid until end of COMEX2017 (Of course)
  • After 12 months you will be charged 15 dollars a month for unlimited talk.
  • Auto-renewal after 12-month. You MUST opt out of Auto-renewal (BAD BAD BAD move)
  • M1’s Traffic Management Policy will apply when it comes to Unlimited usage. In other words, there is a Fair Usage policy.
  • The best part, the FAQ on Traffic Management Policy is motherhood statement that don’t tell us what is the trigger point for people to avoid to have a throttled connection.
  • Once triggered they will have speed limit of 512Kbps if they deemed someone have excessive data usage. Again nothing said about the definition of excessive. The speed limit will be lifted at midnight of the following day or at the start of next bill cycle (confusing because I won’t know when I will get my speed back).

 

StarHub: T-Shirt Sizes Plans 

StarHub plan basically the same as what they have been selling. Unlimited Talk time if you are Size M and above and SMS must pay 5.35 cents per message. So the Data is now unlimited use on Saturdays and Sundays. Straightforward enough.

Some points to talk about

  • Unlimited = 10000 minutes of calls and 10000 SMSes
  • The Unlimited Data plan CANNOT be shared. i.e. no DataShare VAS.
  • They have fair use policy, Everyday maximum 10GB and then a 1Mbps speed limit after. Speed limit will be lifted the following day. Not very clear here.

My Reaction

M1

  • Why must you be so ‘niao’ to only give this good deal to new customers? Again I am seeing KPI of new sign ups lurking in between the lines of this new deal. Your old customers who are renewing and want to come back to you must have a new number? Really? You are pushing customers away, not attracting them.
  • If the above point is wrong because your definition of ‘new’ is also about lines that will re-contract that means it is my bad. If that’s the case, please find a way to make it clearer. New means new number, new sign ups. Re-contract no count.
  • Talk about your page. Please spell out what is your definition of excessive usage. When will M1’s system come in to throttle the person using the line? Case in point, I stream my movie in 4K and all of a sudden it can’t play because I hit the limit that was not made known. Then you blame customers for over using. Don’t take a genius to know that is PR disaster in the making.
  • The Auto-Renewal shouldn’t even be switched on. It MUST be re-contract based on customer instruction and should be an opt-in exercise. This point alone I am not happy.
  • Still, I need to sign 12 months to get Unlimited Data at the most expensive plan.
  • Basically if my monthly usage is 20GB or less on a normal month, paying extra 48 dollars (CL is 50 dollars for 26GB++) just for the word ‘Unlimited’ is just wasting money.

StarHub

  • Seems to highlight about Unlimited Calls (Outgoing) and SMSes. I think that one we don’t need to say lah. In the scheme of things except for some people who need to call people, most of us don’t really need it.
  • Very straightforward. Got Fair Use Policy and the level at 10GB is quite high. So every weekend you will have 20GB to use or 80GB+Data Allocation per month base on your T-Shirt Size.
  • The thing about Unlimited is good but there are caveats as well. If you paid for a plan say 5GB for $44 with StarHub SIM Only plan with no contract, you are still bound to pay the extra excess beyond the 5GB monthly. I can see some issues. If I go download a huge file at 23:59hr on Sunday night and it only stops 2-3 minutes later, the data from Midnight till 00:02 will be counted towards your monthly Data Allowance. So if you are left only with 500MB for the last work week after that disaster download, you still will be stress out so commuting no need to do anything just stare at the chiobu in the train if you are lucky.

Of the two I think StarHub has the better response. Why? Simply because most of the people who work will be using their office computers/wi-fi to get online, including WhatsApping (if your office doesn’t allow you to use, then blame your ‘niao’ bosses). So when will you use your data the most? Yup during weekends. Just be careful about your normal usage and using the free data on Sunday night – but why so stressful?

Things To Consider

If you are someone who relies on Phone calls and SMSes then StarHub plan will give you the best of both worlds – Unlimited Data during weekend and talk until the cows come home. Really I think this is something even Circles.Life can’t match but then again, that’s not what the market Circles.Life and the M1 unlimited data is aiming for judging by the number of calls and SMS both are giving as a basic plan.

And if you are someone who likes to hug your sofa and bed during weekends then would that free weekend Data be useful? I would say it is free, so why not?

But going to StarHub knowing every week I only have 2GB for my work week is still a constraint and will still be under the same stress towards the end of the month. If your usage pattern sees you using 50% or more of your data during weekends, then StarHub’s plans are just perfect. If your usage is pretty even for both weekday/weekend, then the surest bet is still to buy a higher data plan to cover all bases. Honestly for now 10GB and above is more than sufficient for a lot of people.

Let me give you an example. Consider someone who already has 26GB for $50.00 because he is scared of hitting his Data Limit. His normal usage is 3GB per week and 1.5Gb is used for one weekend for example. That’s his normal usage with no cause for concern to limit his usage and he is not worried.

That means weekdays total in a month he will use 1.5GB x 4 or 6GB and 1.5GB x 4 or 6GB for the weekends. That would mean he needs to get StarHub’s 8GB SIM Only plan at $54.00 (4 dollars more already) to ensure his data won’t go over the allocation. Yes he will not have a headache during weekends and can use like nobody business but when it comes to weekday use, he only has 2GB of buffer for the whole month as compared to 14GB-6GB = 8GB if he is with Circles.Life.

So in the end, one must really understand your Weekday and Weekend usage pattern to ensure you don’t pay extra for nothing and don’t get data deprivation at the last week of the month. I don’t see why you change to unlimited data for the weekend only to subject yourself to more stress ensuring you don’t go overboard during weekday.

Customer Retention Tools

“The best form of customer service is the one that gives the customer the best service at the best value and allows the customer the choice to walk away unencumbered if the service is below par”

I am not entirely against contracts IF the service is more or less consistent and gives tremendous value. I signed up with WhizComms for 2 years for a simple reason: they give me a 1 year free internet service in that 2 years contract at 32 per month during the last IT Show effectively means my 1Gbps cost me 16 dollars a month for 2 years.

Of the three Telco we are talking here, only CL gives more value without the need to sign a contract. If you sign a contract thinking that you will get better value think again. I shan’t go to the “Sign New Contract get New Phone at Discounted Price” route because you are basically paying a lot of money for no good reason. I have covered that for the longest time already in my previous article especially one on Note 8 so I won’t go there.

What I do want to say is this, the customer retention programs of M1 and StarHub are non-existent something I have covered previously. Circles.Life rewards customers by getting them to stay and to introduce more people along the way and all these are done without paying more money and tied down with contracts.

The other three Telcos would want you to sign a contract to make firm that they will get your money for 1 or 2 years for the normal plans. For their non-contract plans, you have to see their allocated data meet your needs or not but in the end, staying with them long enough you still have to pay the contract price as compared to Circles.Life.

If I am able to get data referrals and also earn enough through loyalty data allocation (1 year they give 1GB on top of your plan), I have the ability to pay lesser as my free data allocation piles up. That means if I pay for the $20 for 20GB and depending on my referrals and length of stay with CL I can downgrade to the basic plan (save my $20) and yet maintain my data level too.

You see that’s the loophole when it comes to our three old Telcos. Their emphasis to attract new customers with new lines has caused them to see, including the customers, that there is no value in KEEPING your customers. Their only way to keep customers is to lock them in the contract and once out of contract, they will move or the customers subject themselves to the lie that the phone purchase is subsidised and get another contract.

That’s how the Telcos can get away with the 2GB nonsense in 2012 and maintain a healthy profit. But with more companies such as Circles.Life and 4th Telco coming, they can’t use this anymore if more people wise up to the amount of money they have to pay.

Good thing M1 and StarHub have woken up.

If you guys got any questions, do post below and we can discuss. For my own knowledge and also my way of helping to clarify thoughts.

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