LTE(Long Term Evolution) or better marketed as a 4G technology is set to be commercially available via the 2.6GHz spectrum starting early next year in Malaysia. The new technology is capable of delivering high speed broadband speeds of up to 150Mbps and in some cases, even faster.
Based on earlier reports, 9 service provides have been named in 2010 for the LTE spectrum pending a green light for commercial roll-out from the MCMC(Malaysian Communications & Multimedia Commission).
The 9 service providers are- Puncak Semangat Sdn Bhd(30MHz), Celcom Axiata Bhd(20Mhz), Maxis Broadband Sdn Bhd(20Mhz), DiGi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd(20Mhz), U Mobile (20Mhz), Packet One Networks (M) Sdn Bhd(20Mhz), REDTone Marketing Sdn Bhd(20Mhz), YTL Communications Sdn Bhd(20Mhz) and Asiaspace Sdn Bhd(10Mhz).
LTE networks are made for heavy data consuming service such as video and the 20MHz block is seen to be too little for each of the service provider. Thus, MCMC encourages these service providers to enter into partnerships and that may be one of the reason why the roll-out is still pending.
So far Maxis has taken the first step in LTE by partnering with REDtone and U Mobile.
In October 2011, Maxis & U Mobile entered into a multi-billion ringgit agreement to share Maxis’ 3G radio access networks (RAN) with U Mobile. The agreement will be for an initial period of 10 years and will cover LTE network sharing as well.
In July this year, Maxis & REDtone entered into an infrastructure and spectrum sharing agreement that will enable both companies to collaborate on LTE service rollout next year.
In addition to both operators, MalaysianWireless believes that Maxis is also in talks with Packet One Networks for a LTE partnership. Unfortunately, there are no official announcement at this time and we are unable to provide more details.
Last year, TheStar reported that Maxis and AsiaSpace were in talks to roll out LTE services, however, at this point of time, MalaysianWireless believes that both companies are no longer in discussion. However, there’s always a possibility for a partnership.
It is believed that Maxis and its partners may be choosing either Huawei, Ericsson, Alcate-Lucent and Nokia-Siemens for the LTE network deployment.
While Maxis is possibility in talks with 3 parties(U Mobile, P1, REDtone) for LTE, Celcom Axiata on the other hand is also making progress.
A recent report claims that Celcom Axiata is currently in discussion with Puncak Semangat for a LTE partnership.
Celcom’s CEO Datuk Seri Shaz alli Ramly told TheEdge, “We have been in discussions with Puncak Semangat and other parties. With Puncak Semangat, we have had quite detailed discussions and we see opportunities to work together. We are proceeding to see if we can take this to the next step.” Puncak Semangat is connected to businessman Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al Bukhary.
It is believed that Celcom is also working with DiGi on LTE as an extension to their network collaboration agreement signed in 2010. Unfortunately, as part of the Celcom-DiGi deal, only less 100 sites were taken down over the past 2 years.
Celcom may be choosing either Huawei and Ericsson, or both for the LTE network deployment.
As for the remaining two players- YTL Communications and Asiaspace- it is unknown if they plan to deploy LTE service alone or participate in the “Maxis Team” or the “Celcom Team” as mentioned above.
It may be possible that not all 9 service providers may get the LTE license as MCMC is still going through the LTE proposal from the service providers(for the past few years).
The LTE frequency will only be available from Jan 1, 2013 but the service providers have the right to apply for the spectrum for trial purposes, with most of them have already done so.