Axia is complaining that SingTel should not be OpenNet's key subcontractor as SingTel, being a major ISP, is not a neutral party. -AsiaOne
SINGAPORE - One of the four major shareholders of OpenNet, a consortium tasked to build and operate Singapore's Next Generation National Broadband Network (NGNBN), has lodged a complaint to the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) against fellow shareholder SingTel.
OpenNet is jointly owned by SingTel, Axia Net Media, Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) and SP Telecommunications. SingTel and Axia each hold a 30 per cent stake in the company, while SPH holds 25 per cent and SP 15 per cent.
Canadian based Axia is complaining that SingTel should not have been awarded the key subcontractor agreement to physically roll out and activate the network in home and offices, as SingTel, being a major Internet Service Provider (ISP), is not a neutral party.
Axia's chairman and chief executive Art Price told The Straits Times (ST) that SingTel thus competes with all the other ISPs like StarHub and M1. Furthermore, Price alleged that SingTel has also installed its own fibre optic cables in commercial buildings, making it a direct competitor to OpenNet.
IDA said it has received the complaint, but is not in a position to interfere with the commercial arrangements and internal workings of a company.
As OpenNet had freely awarded the subcontractor contract, it is for the company to manage its own commercial arrangements, said assistant chief executive of IDA Mr Khoong Hock Yun.
It was also highlighted that the subcontractor agreement in question is non-exclusive, which means OpenNet can engage more sub-contractors to speed up the activation of its connections.
Mr Price insisted that IDA has the ability to resolve the issue.
When contacted by ST, OpenNet declined to comment on the situation, citing "commercial confidentiality obligations".
This is not the first time problems have surfaced regarding the consortium. OpenNet has lately been facing a lot of heat for its shaky progress in rolling out the network.
Last month, IDA took OpenNet to task for certain operational issues. These included the inability to meet increasing demand, excessive waiting time for the activation of fibre services, delays in installations in commercial buildings and unreasonable pricing.
ST reported that in recent months, demand has been coming in far faster than the speed at which subscribers are being hooked up. While the company's service standards agreements stipulates a three-day wait for homes and 10 days for offices, at present, it takes about six weeks for installations to be complete.
IDA said it has asked OpenNet to increase its number of weekly installations and is reviewing its penalty framework regarding this issue.
On this, OpenNet said it is working with its key subcontractor SingTel to address these operational issues.
They are currently in the works of increasing their normal delivery capacity, OpenNet said.
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