Forced migration

Like these geese, Singtel ADSL subscribers need to migrate in order to keep more than just the broadband connection,
Like these geese, Singtel ADSL subscribers need to migrate in order to keep more than just the broadband connection,

By Edward Lim

The telecommunications market, except for mobile, is facing a slowdown in growth. According to IDC, the Pay TV services market, which consists of cable, satellite, Internet protocol (IP), and digital terrestrial TV services, will remain flat over from 2017 to 2021.

Against this backdrop, it’s unsurprising that telcos are doing their utmost to win customers.

In Singapore, it was reported that Singtel will be shutting down its assymetrical digital subscriber (ADSL) service by next March. It’s said that about 47,000 ADSL customers will be affected. Unfortunately, I am one of the 47,000.

I have been a loyal Singtel customer and have been using Singtel ADSL for a very long time — way back to the days of the dial-in modems in the 1990s.

When fibre broadband came along a few years ago, I added another connection through a new telco MyRepublic, which offered better rates and features, while keeping my Singtel ADSL line.

However, a letter from Singtel this week seems to be forcing me to migrate my fibre subscription — existing contract with MyRepublic notwithstanding.

It’s not just my ADSL connection which serves as a secondary link for my family but also impacted are my mioTV cable subscription as well as my two landlines.

This means that I will either have to switch to  Singtel fibre broadband or lose everything. No mioTV, which like most others, I subscribed to mainly because of the English Premier League (EPL). I had to switch from StarHub because Singtel won the rights for EPL.

My landlines — one for call and the other for fax — will also have to go because of the ADSL closure. This hurts because any change in phone numbers will affect a thousand and one things. The numbers are what my family and I provided to government agencies, banks, family, friends, business associates, and a million others (I exaggerate).

Essentially, the move seems to be made from a profit standpoint without consideration for customer loyalty (I have used Singtel all my life) or customer needs. What should I do with my MyRepublic contract? Pay out the remaining months?

With the market flattening, telcos should be mindful of retaining, instead of antagonising customers. Loyalty does not seem to carry any value. Everything is purely transactional.

Just as telcos are cost-conscious, so too are customers. If forced, some may just bite the bullet and exit them altogether for another telco.