StarBizWeek’s B.K. Sidhu had an interview with Maxis Bhd chief executive officer Sandip Das recently and below are the excerpts:
StarBizWeek: Where do you see broadband pricing going?
Sandip: Aggressive pricing will remain over the next 12 to 18 months. After that consumer will demand for a certain quality of service and premium. For now, they are looking for reliability in service at cheaper prices. In fact, quality of service should have been there from day one but then players were looking to offer capacity rather than speed.
What’s with triple and quad play that Maxis has to chose to be an integrated player?
Sandip: When people talk about triple and quad play, it is all about convergence. We know IPTV, triple and quad play has been around for some time but we need to move further. To us it is our ability to provide services that people need. We see SIM cards being used for applications beyond TV and entertainment and that is why we are talking about enriching people’s lives. With one SIM they can get more than just voice and data.
To give you examples, our sister company is offering degree programmes, so we can use that to provide e-learning via mobile phones. All this is not fantasy, it is here and if you want your healthcare records or home surveillance we will have the product for you.
We will go beyond IPTV and quad, we are looking at the entire proposition and enrichment will come from the quality of content we provide.
What is the value in all this?
Sandip: Most content people categorise us as pipes. To us, enriching comes from understanding the behaviour and finding them the applications they need. The push of content is what they want and that can be moved to other devices. That move from TV to mobile to computer will differentiate us from others. We are sponsoring the FIFA World Cup and these are real matches. Those are the kind of services you will see happening first.
If you look at Maxis, we have been first so often. We were first to roll out 3G, launch the iPhone and recently Android phones. We find the service that people want and the devices to go with that. We build infrastructure, modernise our network and create a whole range of devices that people can use, now the shift is to TV, and all this is value that we provide our customers.
How does Astro fit into the equation?
Sandip: Astro understands the entertainment and media market and that is why we are working very closely on content development with them. There is nothing stopping them to offer content to anyone else. The key is who can put together a much better proposition that is palatable to the consumer. A lot of content that we provide will go beyond entertainment. But we also have to work with different providers for the other kind of content. Astro will be one of the many content houses that we will work with.
Who are the target customers for your integrated services?
Sandip: Malaysia has a cellular penetration rate of over 106% as at the end of last year. We believe 130% and 140% is within reach to match the rates of our neighbours given the demand for mobility, social interaction on the web, entertainment and information. Of course, the penetration levels in the west coast of the peninsula is higher than the east coast, or even Sarawak and Sabah, and that in itself is a growth area for Maxis and that is why we do not believe the market has saturated.
Such penetration rates indicate it is a multi-SIM market where every individual has more than one SIM card. Just imagine what we can do with four to five people in a single household using five mobile voice and data cards for mobility and fixed line for broadband. Delivery of content to all these different devices is an area of opportunity, and the bundling of services so that all these customers remain with us is an area of opportunity for us. Enriching the lives of our customers comes from understanding their behaviour and finding the right applications to push content via a multitude of platforms and devices.
That is why we worked so hard on revamping our network last year to prepare ourselves to target the different layers of service that we can provide.