Celcom to enhance network quality, consumer experience - Business News | The Star Online


Celcom to enhance network quality, consumer experience

Lively briefing: Kuehner (left), Wong, and Celcom Axiata business operations deputy CEO Azwan Khan Osman Khan sharing a light moment with the media

Lively briefing: Kuehner (left), Wong, and Celcom Axiata business operations deputy CEO Azwan Khan Osman Khan sharing a light moment with the media

KUALA LUMPUR: Celcom Axiata Bhd will focus on enhancing its network quality and consumer experience for the second half of the year.

Speaking at Celcom’s media briefing yesterday, chief executive officer Michael Kuehner said the company would utilise its remaining capital expenditure (capex) allocation to invest in these two areas.

In the first half of the year, Celcom had utilised some RM386mil of its allocated capex, with a portion of the funds being used for the spectrum refarming exercise.

“Our total capex guidance remains at RM1.5bil for this year, of which investments for ongoing network expansion will be an estimated RM1bil, within the approved budget.

“Celcom will deliver on its promise for best video experience.

“As of the second quarter ended June 30, Celcom’s long-term evolution (LTE) population coverage had reached 77%,” he said.

The company is targeting to achieve 85% population coverage for its LTE coverage by year-end.

Kuehner added that the telecommunications spectrum refarming of the 900 MHz and 1,800 MHz frequencies was successfully completed ahead of deadlines set by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission.

“The spectrum refarming project, which covered 7,400 sites in six regions, will deliver enhanced network services at affordable rates in urban and rural areas in the future,” he said.

During the second quarter, Celcom registered a 3.4% increase in its normalised profit after tax and minority interests (Patami) to RM331mil compared with the previous corresponding quarter.

On a quarter-on-quarter (q-o-q) basis, Celcom’s normalised Patami grew by 23%.

This was on the back of higher service revenue and total revenue of RM1.5bil and RM1.62bil, marking a q-o-q growth of 1.4% and 0.7% respectively.

Celcom’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) for the second quarter also saw a 7.2% q-o-q growth to RM630mil.

Chief financial officer Jennifer Wong attributes the improved EBITDA to a higher service revenue and stabilising cost structure.

“We are starting to see some of the results of our cost-optimisation efforts under the transformational accelerated cost efficiency programme, and will see better traction as we go along.

“The focus for the company now and moving forward lies more on the service revenue because that is where we derive more profitability.

“Service revenue in the second quarter had improved, mainly driven by the postpaid average revenue per user (arpu) and revenue from our partners,” she said.

Despite industry challenges, Celcom continued to stabilise with a strong overall data performance, with a year-on-year data revenue growth of 27.6% to RM706mil, contributing 43.5% to the company’s total revenue.

Postpaid arpu rose to RM82 from the first quarter’s RM81 (+1.2%), while prepaid arpu rose to RM31 from RM30 (+2.3%) during the same period.