Singapore’s new digital telco Circles.Life‘s new website goes live at 11 am today. A press statement said Circles.Life has been trying to cope with the high demand and interest since its launch, and it has been approving accounts on a “daily first-register, first-approved” basis.
Now, interested subscribers can now purchase their service on the spot and have their SIM cards delivered within a matter of days.
In addition, Circles.Life is introducing a family and friends referral system. This means that Circles.Life subscribers can earn an additional 200 MB of bonus data every month for every family member or friend they refer using their own personal code (found in the CirclesCare mobile app).
Circles.Life says there is no cap on how much data someone can earn and it lasts for as long as both subscribers stay on its network.
It has also giving subscribers the option of having unlimited incoming calls for S$2 (US$1.50) a month and a data roamer feature at S$10 (US$7.40) per 100 MB.
The new 4G service was first announced back in May, two months after MyRepublic announced its play — including a plan to offer unlimited data for S$80 (US$57) per month — forcing the three incumbents to scramble up counter offers post-haste.
And just as the dust was settling, Circles.Life unexpectedly launched its bid. While not technically a full-fledged telco since it’s only a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) — meaning it does not have its own wireless network infrastructure — it is still aiming for the hearts and minds of all mobile consumers, including those of its competitors.
Circles.Life brands itself as the Singapore’s only pay-for-only-what-you-need 4G service. Besides the aforementioned new referral programme, it also offers unlimited free data through other channels including a loyalty programme and a port-in programme.
In the ‘Loyalty Bonus Data’ scheme, subscribers can earn up to 2 GB of data each month if they remain on the network for two years: 500 MB is added to the subscriber’s account for every six months they remain on the network.
In the ‘Port-in Bonus Data’ scheme, subscribers port-in their existing numbers will receive an extra 1GB of bonus data every month (Disclaimer: this is part of an early bird promotion).
“Unlimited Bonus Data puts the focus back to what consumers want more: Data,” said Circles.Life co-founder and director Rameez Ansar in an official statement.
“You keep what you win. If you win 10GB of Bonus Data through referring friends, that 10 GB not only refreshes each month but also continues to grow. This innovative offering and the way of rewarding customers is really a first for the region, not just Singapore,” added Ansar.
Other perks include Boost, which allows customers to add more data capacity in 100 MB, 250 MB, or more whenever they need it; and Unlimited Whatsapp, meaning that using WhatsApp does not incur data usage.
Are subscribers really getting a good deal?
Before jumping on the proverbial bandwagon, verify that the one you land will actually arrive at the destination.
First, Circles.Life has not achieved a critical mass of users yet, so it would be premature to accurately measure the quality of its services. Some users report decent coverage, while others have less-than-stellar results.
“Network coverage wise, I don’t think it’s [Circles.Life] comparable to Singtel (my old plan). For my area (Serangoon North), it’s mostly 2 bars. My closer neighbour, AMK [Ang Mo Kio], is a full 4-bar. For Singtel, I have 4 full bars almost everywhere I go.
I was expecting LTE in trains, especially on the newer lines, but that didn’t happen. At best, 3G. Call quality and and data speed wise, I’m happy with it.”
Again, it is should be stressed again that Circles.Life is a nascent operator; until there is a bigger sample pool size, no fair assessment on its network quality can, or should, be made.
But, surely something can be said about its price point, so let’s have a quick comparison.
For Circles.Life S$28 (US$20) base plan, users are essentially getting 4 GB and 100 minutes of outgoing calls (for those wondering where SMS is, it is available at S$4 (US$3) per 100 messages).
Now, let’s check out its existing competitors (we will not include MyRepublic since it has yet to launch and therefore its price plans may not be finalised yet)
1. M1 – its mySIM+30 plan gives you 4 GB, 1,000 SMS/MMS, 300 minutes of outgoing calls and unlimited incoming calls at S$30 (US$22).
2. StarHub – its 4G 3 plan gives you 6 GB (including Plus 3 add-on), 1,000 SMS/MMS, 150 minutes of outgoing calls and unlimited incoming calls at S$42.70 (US$31.50).
3. Singtel – its Combo 2 plan gives you 4 GB (including DataX2 add-on), 1,000 SMS/MMS, 200 minutes of outgoing calls and unlimited incoming calls at S$42.90 (US$32).
Well, do you think its low price point is still attractive? We will leave it to you — the consumer — to judge.