Monday, March 27, 2023

5 Questions with Wan Zainal, edotco Group’s Chief Regional Officer

MalaysianWireless recently met with Wan Zainal Adileen Wan Puteh, the Chief Regional Officer (Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei) of edotco Group.

edotco wan zainal
Wan Zainal Adileen Wan Puteh, Chief Regional Officer of edotco Group

edotco Group, a subsidiary of Malaysia-based Axiata Group, owns and manages over 28,500 Telecommunication towers across the six countries – Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

Better known as Wan, he joined the edotco Group in 2014 and prior to that, held various leadership role in Tekelec, IBM, Logica and Maxis with over 23 years of experience in the Industry.

In 2015, Wan was named one of the 100 Most Influential Global Marketing Leaders at the World Marketing Congress.

Below are five (5) questions with Wan Zainal, edotco Group’s Chief Regional Officer:

1. Can you tell us about what do you do on a daily basis?

As a chief regional officer, I oversee the operations for Malaysia as well as drive business development to expand our footprint in the region. On a daily basis, I work with my team to ensure that we are meeting our commitments to our customers and at the same time, motivate my close-knit team to keep morale high to achieve an optimised operation.

2. What are your job challenges?

Specifically for Malaysia, the primary challenge is the delivery of sites. To tackle this, we constantly engage the various stakeholders such as landlords and local authorities, so we are able to meet the demands of our customers and the country’s connectivity needs.From the region perspective rapidly understanding the local regulatory frameworks and licensing requirements in order to gain a firm foothold in the new markets is one of the main focuses. Our regional presence, best practices, technical capabilities and experience in establishing operations in emerging markets definitely help here.

Having said these, this job, though challenging, is fulfilling and gives me a lot of satisfaction.

3. What is your personal view of the Telco Sector this year?

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) recently said that the average download speed in Malaysia for 4G now is 21.1 Mbps and 5G is expected to boost this to 1 Gbps per user; the target is for Malaysians to start using 5G by 2022. However, the core network needs to be addressed first before the promised speed and target can be realised. Telecommunications providers have been urged to be ready for upcoming requirements, and have been challenged to provide double the speed at half the price. Reduction in prices will vastly increase accessibility to the internet and information for a greater portion of the country. In order to rise to this, greater capacity is required to minimise bottlenecks.

This is where I see huge potential for growth in mobile data, which in turn will translate into a robust telecommunications industry that can drive the nation’s economy. There will be a need to increase investment for more innovative infrastructure, sites and infill densification. The economies of scale of a towerco will help to reduce the capex and opex of mobile network operators (MNOs) in deploying the needed infrastructure solutions; we are ready to partner with the relevant parties to provide these solutions and meet the nation’s digital needs.

4. How can Telcos improve their network coverage especially indoor? Can you describe the challenges and solutions? Also, what is edotco doing about this?

To overcome indoor challenges, we need to deploy in-building solutions (IBS). But there is a fine balance with regard to education and information sharing between building owners, telco operators and infrastructure providers.

We would like to work closer with building owners to understand their buildings and needs and help them understand the telecommunications infrastructure required to support these needs while also catering for future growth. Partnering with building owners right from the start of the development allow us to actively share our expertise on the telecommunication architecture of the building during the design stage.

For existing buildings, a good success story of what can result from having a good working relationship is the recent world’s first multi-operator, multi-technology indoor small cells solution we deployed in KL Sentral last year, supplementing the existing IBS to provide enhanced coverage and connectivity to the thousands of daily commuters.

5. What is edotco’s aspiration for Malaysia? In your personal opinion, how can this be accomplished?

We aspire for Malaysia to be a forerunner in the adoption of 5G. To achieve this, infrastructure providers such as ourselves and other stakeholders need to come together and play our respective roles. We are committed to helping Malaysia realise the capacity required (for 5G) while at the same time continuously innovating to keep communities and people connected.

I am also focused on upscaling our teams and operations so that we can continue providing shared infrastructure, enhancing our telecommunications industry and be an effective and efficient nation building partner.

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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