The benefits of number portability -free calls, free phones!

July 2nd, 2008 | by Alfred Siew

singtel, m1 or starhub? take your pick

The street battles for mobile users are intensifying here, and these days, with cellphone operators fighing tooth and nail for customers, you can not only get a phone for free, but even free calls and mobile Internet – for up to 6 mths!

That’s exactly what I got for finally switching last night. I’ve been agonising on whether to leave M1 – I love it a lot, sorry, and I’ll miss the customer service after 12 years with it – but at the end of the day, it’s hard-earned cash that made my mind up.

How so? The HTC Touch Diamond phone which I bought just now cost me less than $200. Amazing? Well, let’s do the sums.

Original price for HTC Touch Diamond = $1098
Operator discount: -$500 =$598
StarHub PowerValue 300 plan discount -$100 =$498
Hubbing discount -$100 =$398
Trade-in my old O2 Atom -$200 =$198
Minus off my StarHub loyalty points -$50 =$148.

Amazing discounts, right? Truth be told, M1 and SingTel also have similar deals – they are both selling the Touch Diamond at around $598 with a basic plan.

But what swayed me in the end was also this amazing deal – 6 mths free subscription for new signups. That means another $48 (a mth) x 6 = $288 in savings.

Okay, I gotta pay about $37 for a new SIM card. But if you add the sums $148+$37-$288= -$103

Yup, I just got my phone free, plus I “pocketed” $103 (in fact I save another $60 coz of the free mobile Internet for $10 each month) because I don’t have to pay any subscriptions – almost – for the next half year!

The fact that SingTel has a similar free-six-months deal for its FIXED LINE users shows it is fighting a tough fight with StarHub. Will M1 now stand up and offer something similar? Let’s wait and see, but I don’t think it will stay till and envy the crowds at the StarHub shops (I had 60 people in front of me in the queue).

But in the end, I’m glad I’m rewarded for my patience these past 6 mths for not upgrading and tying myself in.. now, I am truly happy with the fruits of some real competition here – the toughest in years for sure.
 

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8 Comments

  1. limbeer says:

    Not a bad deal at all. Especially when you can get the phone right here, right now (no Fatboy Slim pun intended) while the 3G iPhone crew’s still eagerly anticipating the release.

    What I don’t like about SG telcos is that they want to charge you for basic stuff like Caller ID and roaming after the promo period – I guess they gotta make back the subsidies somewhere – but you gotta add these to your 2 year contract TCO 🙂

  2. alfsiew says:

    >>You know, you guys should form a harmony singing group called the “Three Gees” and sing classic hits like “Jive Talking” and “I’ve Gotta Get A Message to You” to promote the latest mobile subscription packages.

    yo bee ree,
    haha… the pun attack! sell your ideas to m1! they seem to have the most innovative ads with youdeservebetter.sg.

  3. alfsiew says:

    yo fangirl,
    >>Now if only they’d buy out contracts too on top of the freebies.

    Well, you get 6 mths free from StarHub or SingTel – that’s a few hundred bucks! ahah.. enough to offset what you owe your old operator!

  4. billy teo says:

    So Mr Siew,

    can we define this phenomenon as “free for all”?

    Anyway, why not play a few retro hits for the perfect soundtrack for this piece.

    How about En Vogue’s “Free Your Line (And The Rest Will Follow?)”

    Or Dire Straits’ “Money For Nothing (And the kits for free?)”

    You know, you guys should form a harmony singing group called the “Three Gees” and sing classic hits like “Jive Talking” and “I’ve Gotta Get A Message to You” to promote the latest mobile subscription packages.

    Or dedicate songs like “You Win Again” or “Staying Alive” to the mobile operators.

    Just an idea : )

  5. fangirl says:

    It’s definitely great to see the telcos finally slugging it out for customers, after years of them dictating the rules of the game. I think when contracts end in future, they might need to offer better incentives to keep subscribers. Too bad though that I was suckered into buying a lousy phone last year, and still have more than a year to wait out before my contract ends! Now if only they’d buy out contracts too on top of the freebies.

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