Monday, March 20, 2023

[Opinion] 4 years later, SKMM still believes in AsiaSpace

AsiaSpace says that it will launch LTE in Malaysia within the next 12-months. The company will partner with Huawei Technologies Malaysia to commercially launch the TTD-LTE 2.3 GHz spectrum services in the country.

AsiaSpace from WiMAX to LTE

AsiaSpace launched its WiMAX service with limited coverage in August 2008. However after operating for less than 2 years, the WiMAX operator decided to shut down its broadband network sometime in May last year and promised to make a “come back” by September 2010. However that did not happen. It later announced that it was exploring TDD-LTE technology with Qualcomm. Mid this year, it was rumoured that AsiaSpace was in talks with Maxis to partner on LTE services.

It has been over a year since AsiaSpace took their WiMAX network offline, leaving subscribers in the dark.

Note this that 4 operators including Asiaspace, P1, Yes4G and REDtone received the WiMAX license from the Government in the year 2007. All operators submitted a business plan to SKMM which much be followed and executed but 3 operators except P1 failed to do so.

Keep in mind that spectrum is a national resource, there’s no room for mistakes. In 2009, AsiaSpace was fined RM1.7mil by SKMM for not meeting the 25% WiMAX coverage dateline. It is unclear if SKMM has taken any similar action on AsiaSpace for taking its network offline.

AsiaSpace- 4 years Later

Today without a proper live WiMAX network, 4 years after granting AsiaSpace a WiMAX license, it clearly shows that the WiMAX business plan submitted in the year 2007 wasn’t followed and executed well. In December 2008, Communications Minister Datuk Shaziman Abu Mansor said the Government would withdraw licenses from players who could not show good reasons why they are not able to roll out according to proposed plans.

However, a few years have passed and AsiaSpace has yet to offer a “continued proper broadband service”, I personally doubt that the new Communication Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim shares the same view of his predecessor.

In comparison, P1 WiMAX network has been operational since 2008 and has made a number of progress on LTE this year. It plans to transition its WiMAX network to a dual WiMAX/TD-LTE network as early as the first half of 2012. It is working closely with ZTE, China Mobile, Qualcomm, Green Packet & Sequans to create and develop a complete ecosystem for the LTE network from network to devices.

Not to forget that Yes4G & REDtone all have an operational live network. Why AsiaSpace is waiting up to 12-months more to launch?

SKMM made the right choice?

Mobile operators like Celcom, Maxis & DiGi would spent millions in Ringgit on networks. Assuming one of these mobile operators was granted the WiMAX license in 2007, consumers would have another option today in subscribing for a broadband service.

But 4 years later, with AsiaSpace still keeping the precious spectrum, SKMM still believes that it will roll out a nationwide broadband network. Considering the huge amounts of money involved in the WiMAX business, it is a question whether the right parties were selected.

SKMM feared no one when it instructed the ISPs in Malaysia to block a number of file sharing websites. So why is an ISP still in play when it failed to make good use of the spectrum awarded to them by SKMM 4 years ago, who’s the boss?

AsiaSpace may have their own reasons and there’s lot of challenges and complications in rolling out a network. But a business plan was in place, decisions are made and a couple years have passed. There’s still no service, still no commercial network. Only promises.

Maybe SKMM still have hope on AsiaSpace but broadband users in this country are desperate for a better broadband service. While the majority broadband network in this country are congested with high data traffic, one new player in the market could make a difference.

If AsiaSpace could not make good use of this spectrum, then it should make way for others.

Majority Malaysians voted for this Government, maybe it is time for SKMM to do right thing, for the sake of the “rakyat”- withdraw the license from players that have failed to deliver what they promised.


Disclaimer: This is an opinion piece. The views, assumptions and personal opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect any company, person or the Malaysia Government.

Kugan is the co-founder of MalaysianWireless. He has been observing the mobile industry since 2003. Connect with him on Twitter: @scamboy

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