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Digital telco Circles.Life offers on-demand unlimited data plan

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Circles.Life, Singapore's first "digital telco" and fourth mobile operator, says it is on a mission to reimagine and revolutionise the telecommunications industry.

Singapore

CIRCLES.LIFE, Singapore's first "digital telco" and fourth mobile operator, says it is on a mission to reimagine and revolutionise the telecommunications industry.

On Thursday, the startup said that it is on track to meet its 3 to 5 per cent market-share goal by 2019, as it unveiled a series of "world's-first" services aimed at "giving power back" to its customers; it also announced expansion plans to Indonesia, its first market outside Singapore.

Unlimited Data on Demand, a new service said to be the first of its kind globally, is an add-on that offers customers unlimited mobile data for only S$3 a day and on demand. Any customer on the Circles.Life network - even those on the basic plan - can add the service at any time of the month if they need more data. To add the service, customers simply activate it on their CirclesCare app.

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Rameez Ansar, co-founder of Circles.Life, told The Business Times: "Our product is the first to give power back to customers because it costs only S$3 a day. We argue that you do not need unlimited data for the whole month, or to pay S$48 a month for 26GB of data. Instead, you only add this option as and when you need it."

Circles.Life currently offers a competitive basic plan that costs S$28 a month for 6GB of data and 100 minutes of talktime. It also offers a data add-on that costs S$20 a month for 20GB of data, which means customers pay S$48 a month for a total of 26GB of data.

Mr Ansar added that Unlimited Data on Demand is a "completely digital experience" because activating it requires only a push of a button on the CirclesCare app, through which customers can enjoy full visibility on their charges and clarity on the time left to use the add-on service once it is activated.

As with all unlimited data plans in the market, Circles.Life's new service is subject to a Fair-Use Policy (FUP), which imposes limits on data transfer speeds after a certain amount of data is used. But for Unlimited Data on Demand, speeds will be managed after 100GB of usage per month, which is "more generous than other telcos' FUPs", said Mr Ansar.

WhatsApp Passport, another new service said to be a world's first, is an add-on that offers customers unlimited messages on WhatsApp when overseas. From S$1 a day, they can enjoy unlimited data usage for WhatsApp while roaming with Circles.Life's partner networks in over 18 countries, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, the US and UK.

Unlimited Outgoing Calls, the third service launched on Thursday, is an add-on that gives customers unlimited local outgoing calls for an extra S$16 a month.

This complements Circles.Life's existing add-on, which charges S$2 a month for free incoming calls, creating a plan that offers 6GB of data and unlimited incoming and outgoing calls for "only S$46 a month", said the telco.

Mr Ansar told BT: "We realised that a lot of working professionals, freelancers, SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises), agents and drivers need more flexibility on their talktime. While this is not a product for the majority of our customers, who prefer OTT (over the top) apps for voice calling such as WhatsApp, we could not leave voices unheard as we're about giving power back to the customer."

Circles.Life plans to expand to Indonesia by the second half of this year, potentially making it the first fully-digital platform for mobile services in Indonesia. It said the rapid expansion is made possible by Circles-X, its proprietary cloud-based infrastructure which enables new-country launches in weeks instead of years, and at five per cent of the cost.

"In the same way how other asset-light digital players in entertainment, transportation and hospitality have reimagined their respective industries, Circles.Life believes Circles-X will reimagine the future of the telecommunications industry."

Mr Ansar added that Circles.Life is the first player in Asia to use a fully-digital model, and that the only other telco globally with comparable tech capabilities is Project Fi by Google.

"Many players, including traditional telcos, use digital cloud-based technology in some manner. What is unique to Circles.Life is how our entire telco system is 100 per cent digitised. This is what enables us to cut down the capital expenditure of running a telco by 95 per cent and allows launch-time windows of weeks instead of years."

He added: "With this digital model, we can plug in anywhere in the world for less money and in less time. Indonesia is just the first stop of many!"

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