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Saturday September 7, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Saturday September 7, 2013 MYT 7:34:16 AM
by jagdev singh sidhu
Zamzamzairani: ‘We are exploring wireless technologies and the expansion of our wireless broadband services in under-served areas.’
AS mobile communication companies such as Maxis Bhd and Celcom Axiata Bhd start rolling out their 4G-LTE data services, the country’s largest broadband provider Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) is looking to move into the same space to grow and protect its data services business.
“We are exploring wireless technologies and the expansion of our wireless broadband services in under-served areas, in line with our broadband services delivery strategy for the nation,” says TM group CEO Tan Sri Zamzamzairaini Mohd Isa.
Zamzamzairaini or Zamzam as he is better known, says that wireless technologies will complement TM’s fixed network high speed broadband (HSBB) services.
It has been reported that TM has proposed an end-to-end network and IT solution with some integration to existing TM infrastructure for the deployment of the LTE.
First commercial service is expected to be rolled out by Feb of next year, with the end of rollout slated for Oct 15, 2014.
TM plans to use its 800MHz spectrum as its LTE frequency band and more importantly, it aims to have 100,000 users on its wireless LTE network by 2014 and more than one million by 2017.
Zamzam says a fixed line network will provide consumers with pipes to utilise heavy content and applications at home or at the office.
“Meanwhile, wireless services provide consumers the flexibility to access broadband on the go.
In fact, by increasing the rate of broadband penetration in the country, all providers stand to gain bigger shares from the larger pie.
“Hence, there is a place for fixed broadband and mobile broadband in every customer needs.
“Fixed broadband provides better quality of experience as demonstrated now by UniFi but for broadband access whilst on the move, customers can be served by mobile broadband.”
He says the wireless players that are rolling out their 4G networks are not without their own set of challenges, which he identified as limited capacity due to tremendous growth in data and Internet traffic.
He says as operators pump up the speed at the air interface they need to start paying attention to backhaul to make sure the rest of the network can keep up.
That, he feels, will drive new opportunities for fixed players like TM who might partner with mobile operators to provide various sorts of wholesale or managed services.
“TM has the opportunity to help them manage that traffic on our networks.
“This is why we are seeing a new age of collaboration amongst industry players in many areas of infrastructure and services, facilitated by the regulatory environment and for the ultimate benefit of the Malaysian consumers.”
Moving into data
Zamzam believes customers can tell the difference between a fixed broadband and mobile broadband service.
He says fixed broadband has the advantage of providing speeds of up to 1Gbps, in any weather condition. “Once a fixed access is established, the quality of service is assured. This is unlike wireless and satellite transmission that are limited by the environment, in-building penetration, devices etc.”
As the provider of UniFi and Streamyx services, TM feels its customers can still get connected wirelessly via 28,600 TM WiFi hotspots nationwide, largely focusing in F&B, retail outlets, shopping malls etc.
“We will continue to increase both coverage and quality of our WiFi footprint nationwide to support our end-users needs to experience seamless quality broadband beyond their homes,” he says.
Zamzam feels its a bit too early to know if LTE will be a game changer in Malaysia.
“However, as we know, the market is largely expecting more smart partnerships and sharing agreements to be inked. We believe it is time for the mobile operators to open-up and provide wholesale mobile virtual network services to other service providers that do not have access to the spectrum,” he says.
One big reason for sharing of networks is cost and a telecommunications infrastructure tends to swallow a lot of money from companies.
Last year, TM invested 26% of its total revenues into infrastructure and services and Zamzam says a significant chunk of that investment was channeled to Malaysian companies.
“To sustain such level of investments, it is important to preserve some margins from the normal business operations. It is a big challenge for telcos to sustain such margins given the current business dynamics.
Zamzam does see a gradual reduction in margins affecting the industry generally due both to increased competition and the high growth in data traffic which triggers higher costs.
“A company like TM, which has invested very heavily in fibre, should be in a much more resilient position than others in this regard.
“However, there are plans to mitigate further margin erosion, which includes cost structure improvement and smart partnerships among Service Providers to potentially widen revenue streams in a more cost-effective way. We are already seeing a new age of increased collaboration amongst industry players in many areas of infrastructure and services, facilitated by the regulatory environment and for the ultimate benefit of the Malaysian consumers.
“Though we compete at the retail end, the telcos could also be the enabler for each other through infrastructure sharing. TM is certainly a staunch supporter of this and this is proven by our providing open access to other access seekers to TM’s network infrastructure via our wholesale arm.”
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Business, telekom, LTE, expansion
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