12 months have passed since I talked about Singapore Telcos way back on December 29 2018. What a change it has been for the past year.
There are now more MVNOs on top of Zero1, Zero Mobile and Circles Life. We now have MyRepublic who came on after not getting the 4th Telco license, Giga from Starhub, Gomo from SingTel and Grid Mobile from SingTel/ST Telemedia. So how do you choose the best mobile plan for yourself?
TLDR: Here’s my spreadsheet
My Grid Mobile REFERRAL Code: WILZGRID (benefit if used: 750 GridPoints once you sign up. I will also have GridPoints)
Method and Motivation On Comparison
I guess is that a lot of people are very confused when it comes to comparing plans. My method is fairly simple and I adopt a set of ‘decision points’ so I know how to compare.
a. Determine how much data you normally use per month. You can download some apps to help you determine the amount of data you use every month such as
– My Data Manager (Both)
– My Data Usage (iOS)
– Data Usage (Both)
I used my previous bills to determine my usage too. Using Circles Life app and looking through my bills, my lowest was 5GB and highest was 18.5GB (emergency usage of laptop tethered to my phone as there was no Wi-Fi around).
I just use the middle of the number, [(18.5-5)/2]+5=12GB (approx) to determine how much I really need on the whole. Surprisingly, it was the amount I was given by SingTel under a very old plan. I then push to the next 5GB so I determine I will have 15GB as my basis of comparison.
b. Get rid of all the promotions you see online. The reason is very simple. When I sign up for a service I tend to do it for a long time. Whenever there is a promotion, it will only last for a period of time, normally a year. If that happens I am going into the same trap of looking at plans like I would when I sign a contract.
I keep seeing forums after forums that people are comparing plans just because of promotions. What we don’t see are the costs of changing including SIM card courier, registration costs, loss of unused days on the old plan as you ported over etc.
So just compare objectively for 24 months. Even if they are going to give you 50GB for the next three months how much will you really use? Hence you need to look at point (a) so you are paying what you need to use.
c. No-contract at all. I always believed the best customer service is one that you don’t tie down your customer at all so you can leave immediately if the service got bad or you got overcharged through no fault on your own and your patience has run thin.
That said, the next best customer service is one that gives you back as much as possible if you stay with the service provider. In short, a loyalty program.
d. Loyalty Program
This has always been my pet point to talk about. All the service providers, especially SingTel, M1 and StarHub, do have their own loyalty program.
The thing about loyalty programs that what I see is that it requires you to spend on something so you can get the discount. For SingTel rewards, you have Xmas (why cannot Christmas leh?) takeaway goodies where you get 30% off when you order or 1-for-1 tickets with Cathay Cineplexes.
Or StarHub, you will get some discounts for having their full suite of services (same as SingTel). Or you get $1 Domino Pizza or $1 Gong Cha drink only for the first few hundred of their customer.
If you see the trend of so-called loyalty program, the reach is only to a very small subset of the customers that they have. And from that sub-set, only those who likes sugary drinks like Gong Cha or in need to buy Christmas food will apply for the discount. What happens to those people who stayed with them for years and haveyet to enjoy any discounts?
I did try though while I was with SingTel and what I got was a phone discount IF I re-contract with them which has very little impact for SingTel since they can crawl back the amount from the extra money you pay for signing a contract for that paltry amount of data. What if I do not want to re-contract? I don’t get to enjoy the loyalty program?
So yes. A loyalty program has to be applied to every single customer. If they stay for x-number of years, then a good loyalty program will reward the customer for staying with the reward amount matching the number of years no matter if he/she actually knows there is such a program.
e. Determine if your area is covered well by the network you are planning to use with. The areas you should look into will be your office and your home. All other places are secondary considerations. The reason is very simple. Your workplace and home are the two places you will spend the most time in.
Some may find this as odd as Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) of Singapore stipulates that all the connections must meet a certain QoS connection. You’d be surprised that is not the case. Some places may have stronger Starhub signal than M1 or SingTel simply because their wireless stations may miss spots that Starhub is able to cover better.
For my case, I have very little problems with both M1 and SingTel. For the non-techies, just to let you know Starhub uses only the 1800MHz bandwidth for 4G LTE. SingTel and M1 have both 1800MHz and 2600MHz so the connection by theory is stronger for these 2 networks at least theoretically.
I can also go for MVNOs that uses SingTel and M1 network. So that means I have excluded MyRepublic and Giga from my personal list.
NOTE: I have excluded Zero Mobile from the comparison because Zero Mobile was reported by Todayonline that they have halted services and plans to relaunch soon. Here’s the report.
NOTE 2: I have excluded TPG too as they are not officially launched yet. And to be fair, their signals have not reach below ground (MRT for example) so it will be unfair to compare them now.
With all the above in mind, I came out with this table that you can use as a reference for your decision-making process. Do note I am doing this for my own benefit. I am not out to spoil any companies’ reputation. I only use what I can see online, including terms and conditions, to make my conclusions.
I would, however, stand corrected if facts are not shown correctly.
Here’s the link to the spreadsheet so you can open it and read it with my blog post.
- Using 15GB as my data requirement. Here is the ranking from lowest to highest in terms of pricing – Gomo, MyRepublic, Grid Mobile, Giga, Circles Life and Zero1
- Taking out Starhub as the network provider, I am left with Gomo, Grid Mobile, Circles Life and Zero 1.
- The other option is that I can stay with Circles Life but I will be paying 30 dollars in January which includes a $2 for unlimited incoming calls with 20GB of data.
- So I am left with Gomo and Grid Mobile as Zero1 is effectively more expensive at $10 and $5 more respectively which translates to $240 and $120 difference over 24 months.
- Even though Gomo is going 20GB for $20 and Grid is doing 20GB for $25 (without promotion remember?), the $5 dollars is for a reason – that is their loyalty program and at least you get points for staying and referring people to the service. You can read about it more here.
Even though it is a points system, at least I have something back for my birthday and every month I am with them. This at least gives me a reason to stick around. This is something Gomo does not have.
- Grid Mobile is giving extra 20GB and is valid until further notice. I agree that it can be as short as a year to as long as eternity. But I am getting a bit more value than $30 (with unlimited incoming calls) for 28GB with Circles Life.
- Do remember too, the basis of my comparison is that the plan should have at least 15GB and both are giving me that amount of data (and more) at $25 and $30 with incoming calls. Singaporeans have the tendency to compare with who gives you more but that is a fallacy because you are buying things that you are not going to use up anyway, might as well save that 5 dollars per month.
- Reasons for leaving Circles Life.
- CL does not have a loyalty program now. That means there is really nothing to hold me back other than using the cost as a reason. Sure. I can forgo that 5 dollars very easily but why am I sticking around when CL is doing exactly what the other companies are doing? Might as well maximise the opportunities and then port out and in again. But that might not happen. Why? Go back to my point about Grid Mobile’s loyalty program.
- A referral program is not the same as a loyalty program. Loyalty means I am rewarded for sticking around. Referral means I am doing sales on behalf of a company and the benefits are short-lived. If a customer is happy enough with the loyalty program, he or she will be happy to do a referral too. If a company has no talking point for a customer to share with others, then there is really no reason for people to talk about the company.
- All in, there is no motivation and reason to get people into Circles Life and so no point having a referral program.
CONCLUSION: Grid Mobile
If you want to get the extra GridPoints to sign up, you are welcome to use “WILZGRID” as the REFERRAL code so you can earn 750 grid points in total (that is around $7.50)
GETTING A PLAN FOR NEW PHONE OR NO-CONTRACT AND BUY RETAIL?
For those who are still thinking about doing contracts because if you want to buy a new phone.
- I am using the Oppo Reno 2 as the example because a friend asks me to help her compare as she wants to get the phone. Review of Reno 2.
- Since she is on Starhub I will use Starhub and Giga as the comparison
- With ZERO money upfront and paying $75 per month for a more than 15GB plan, you are effectively paying (75-62.46=) $12.54 more per month or $300.96 over 2 years.
- With $199 upfront even for the cheaper plan with 5GB or less of data, you will be paying $58.29 already. If you go on Giga you only pay $4 dollars more per month for more than triple amount of data. And that means no headache, no stress and worry that the data will run out and pay much more at per GB. Do you want to stress over a plate of chicken rice every month?
- Do note that I amortise the $199 upfront cost of the phone over 24 months so that you can see the actual cost to you monthly.
- This is not just for Reno2. You can try with the other flagship phones that cost much much more and the difference will be even starker. Even a calculation for a simple budget phone yields $300 dollars over two years.
I am happy to answer any questions with regards to the plans and how I decide. I am even happier if the service providers want to talk to me about this as I have helped Circles Life in the past with my views as well as SingTel and Zero Mobile too, in a way (heh).
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, comment in Facebook at my Facebook Page or you can leave a message here (but will take time to reply).
Like I said. I will stand corrected as this is a blog post.
DISCLAIMER: I do not represent anyone or any organisation. The views above are my own and publishing this is under my own volition.
About Wilson Wong
Founder of the 10000+ members Singapore Photography Interest Network photography group, avid gadget lover and budget wanderluster. He also writes for Techgoondu.com a tech website for the non-techies about the latest trends in personal tech. His wish is to help people get the right stuff and enjoy life without cutting off limbs to do so.