ad info




TIME Asia
TIME Asia Home
Current Issue
Magazine Archive
Asia Buzz
Travel Watch
Web Features
  Entertainment
  Photo Essays

Subscribe to TIME
Customer Services
About Us
Write to TIME Asia

TIME.com
TIME Canada
TIME Europe
TIME Pacific
TIME Digital
Asiaweek
Latest CNN News

Young China
Olympics 2000
On The Road

 ASIAWEEK.COM
 CNN.COM
  east asia
  southeast asia
  south asia
  central asia
  australasia
 BUSINESS
 SPORTS
 SHOWBIZ
 ASIA WEATHER
 ASIA TRAVEL


Other News
From TIME Asia

Culture on Demand: Black is Beautiful
The American Express black card is the ultimate status symbol

Asia Buzz: Should the Net Be Free?
Web heads want it all -- for nothing

JAPAN: Failed Revolution
Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori clings to power as dissidents in his party finally decide not to back a no-confidence motion

Cover: Endgame?
After Florida's controversial ballot recount, Bush holds a 537-vote lead in the state, which could give him the election

TIME Digest
FORTUNE.com
FORTUNE China
MONEY.com

TIME Asia Services
Subscribe
Subscribe to TIME! Get up to 3 MONTHS FREE!

Bookmark TIME
TIME Media Kit
Recent awards

TIMEASIAWEEKASIANOWTIME
SEARCH  GO

about Asia Buzz  |  more Asia Buzz

Price War!
Will Singapore see an Internet shakeout?
By ERIC ELLIS

December 30, 1999
Web posted at 4 a.m. Hong Kong time, 3 p.m. EDT


In just a few weeks, Singapore has gone from being one of the world's most expensive places for Internet access to one of its cheapest -- thanks to a price war playing out among several leading members of Singapore Inc.

    ASIA BUZZ
Asia Buzz: The Dream Stream
I want my bootleg TV
- Tuesday, Dec. 28, 1999

Letter from Japan: Who's Laughing Now?
The joke's on Knock Yokoyama
- Friday, Dec. 24, 1999

Asia Buzz: Bah, Humbug
All I want for Christmas is my online-ordered gift
- Thursday, Dec. 23, 1999

Asia Buzz: Billgatesland
What 787 million shares of Microsoft really means
- Tuesday, Dec. 21, 1999

Asia Buzz: Play and Win!
Test your knowledge of Asian affairs
- Monday, Dec. 20, 1999

Culture on Demand: High Roller
You can bet on a perfect day in Macau
- Saturday, Dec. 18, 1999

  ALSO IN TIME
Market Q&A
Each business evening with analysts around the region

  ASIAWEEK
Intelligence
The story behind today's news from the editors of Asiaweek

Daily Briefing
Today's headlines from across the region

The battle among these erstwhile friends to win Singaporeans and influence their online habits is getting hot. The latest salvo sees Pacific Internet (PacNet), which views itself as the funky, independent and entrepreneurial local Net brand, effectively paying users to visit its e-commerce sites. This (expensive) rocket was launched just days after it said it was slashing online charges by 70%. And only a week before that, PacNet's main competitor, SingNet, announced it was introducing a free dial-up service.

The trigger for this flurry of discounting: StarHub, which recently launched its own free dial-up service. In the space of just two weeks, StarHub says it has signed up more than 100,000 subscribers. While PacNet and SingNet initially spluttered that much of StarHub's subscription base represented dual account holders and that they were not losing subscribers, their subsequent actions show that they're concerned. SingNet subscribers number around 240,000, while PacNet claims about 200,000.

It's unclear who will triumph. But one thing seems clear: PacNet is vulnerable. The content on its sites is uninteresting; you can access it at maximum speed of only 56K (and let's be honest, few dial-up modems operate at the speed they claim); and at the end of the day Singapore is a limited market. PacNet's CEO Nicholas Lee needs to do more than merely buy small ISPs around the region to justify the company's longer-term existence.

Moreover, PacNet's competitors -- SingNet and StarHub -- are backed by two of the republic's biggest and best-connected companies: Singapore Telecom (SingNet) and Singapore Technologies (StarHub). Both are run by members of Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew's family, and each includes the government among its major shareholders.

And there are better technologies out there. SingTel's ADSL-based access service, Magix, is far faster than PacNet's. And lurking in the wings is Singapore Cable Vision, the cable TV operator that now covers the island and is test-marketing cable-enabled Net access, which is faster still.

To be sure, the Sembawang group, which controls Pacific Internet, has had a good run. It made millions off the ISP when it became the first Asian Net play to list on New York's NASDAQ. It put up not one but two share offerings, the first in January at $17 a share and the second a few months later at a fully priced $51. Both issues were fully subscribed and the price has held up, spurred in part by a sense that Asia is beginning to emerge as a massive Net market. Still, there could well be a shakeout in the year 2000, and PacNet's going to feel the heat.

Write to TIME at mail@web.timeasia.com
Search for recent Asia Buzz

TIME Asia home

AsiaNow


   LATEST HEADLINES:

WASHINGTON
U.S. secretary of state says China should be 'tolerant'

MANILA
Philippine government denies Estrada's claim to presidency

ALLAHABAD
Faith, madness, magic mix at sacred Hindu festival

COLOMBO
Land mine explosion kills 11 Sri Lankan soldiers

TOKYO
Japan claims StarLink found in U.S. corn sample

BANGKOK
Thai party announces first coalition partner



TIME:

COVER: President Joseph Estrada gives in to the chanting crowds on the streets of Manila and agrees to make room for his Vice President

THAILAND: Twin teenage warriors turn themselves in to Bangkok officials

CHINA: Despite official vilification, hip Chinese dig Lamaist culture

PHOTO ESSAY: Estrada Calls Snap Election

WEB-ONLY INTERVIEW: Jimmy Lai on feeling lucky -- and why he's committed to the island state



ASIAWEEK:

COVER: The DoCoMo generation - Japan's leading mobile phone company goes global

Bandwidth Boom: Racing to wire - how underseas cable systems may yet fall short

TAIWAN: Party intrigues add to Chen Shui-bian's woes

JAPAN: Japan's ruling party crushes a rebel at a cost

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans need to have more babies. But success breeds selfishness


Launch CNN's Desktop Ticker and get the latest news, delivered right on your desktop!

Today on CNN

Back to the top   © 2000 Time Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.