Monday, March 27, 2023

Telekom Malaysia doesn’t want to be another Mobile Telco but still keen on 700Mhz

Telekom Malaysia (TM) does not intend to be another player in an already overcrowded and over-saturated mobile market as it does not have a matured network, said Hong Leong Investment Bank (HLIB) Research.

Menara-TM-Telekom-Malaysia 700mhz

According to media report, HLIB Research Analyst Tan J Young said that during a meeting, the Telco (TM) stated that it is not keen on C-band networks (3.5Ghz) as they are more suitable for wireless players.

However, Telekom Malaysia (TM) is seeking the allocation of 700 megahertz (MHz) spectrum (not C-band) to offer “affordable” fixed wireless access broadband in rural areas.

“Unifi Mobile is positioned merely to complement fixed offerings with convergence proposition only,” wrote the analyst.

“Leveraging on its extensive fibre reach, TM is definitely a prime beneficiary of 5G rollout. Other catalysts include the awards of National Fiberisation and Connectivity Plan and 5G airwaves.”

MalaysianWireless notes that Telekom Malaysia (TM) currently has access to 30Mhz in the 2.3Ghz band, 20Mhz in the 2.6Ghz band and 20Mhz in the 850Mhz band, a total of 70Mhz, which appears to be more than sufficient to offer a wireless broadband service, even in rural areas.

Early this month, MalaysianWireless wrote that Digi, Altel, Telekom Malaysia, Celcom Axiata and Maxis were quietly awarded spectrum in the 700Mhz band mid-May, as ordered by Dato’ Saifuddin bin Abdullah, Minister of Communications and Multimedia. Two days after the article was published, the Minister released a media statement cancelling the assignment of the 700Mhz band to the 5 Telecommunication companies (Telcos).

U Mobile was the only major Telco that was excluded by the Minister from receiving the much needed 700MHz spectrum that it could use to expand its 4G coverage to a comparable basis with Maxis, Celcom Axiata and Digi.

Early this year, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) identified the 700MHz, 3.5GHz and 26/28GHz as the pioneer spectrum bands for the roll-out of 5G in Malaysia. For the spectrum assignment of 700Mhz and 3.5Ghz, MCMC have previously said it will undertake a Tender Process for this purpose as this approach is intended to lower the capital expenditure (CAPEX) by minimising costs and prevent the duplication of infrastructure, at a time where improvements in 4G LTE networks are continuing. However, it is learned that a tender process for the 700Mhz band never took place.

MCMC expects commercial deployment of Malaysia 5G networks to begin by the third quarter (Q3) of 2020, but this may been delayed now due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and the change of the Malaysia Government.

A total of 80Mhz in the 700Mhz band are expected to be awarded to the Telcos while the remaining spectrum are currently being utilised by YTL Communications. To date, MCMC has yet to announce the award of the spectrum in 700/800Mhz band to YTL Communications.

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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