Yesterday, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) said that it doesn’t have any objection on the merger between Celcom Axiata and Digi. But there are some conditions that have been agreed.
One of those condition include the separation of Yoodo from Celcom Axiata.
Launched in 2018, Yoodo is a digital mobile service from Celcom with a customisable prepaid plan.
Among the conditions imposed by MCMC for Yoodo include the following:
- Yoodo must be sold (divested) to a Buyer that is not linked to Axiata, Celcom, Digi and Telenor, within 18 months after the merger, estimated around 2023 to mid of 2024.
- Celcom may not sell Yoodo at a discounted price or below cost.
- Celcom and Digi may not absorb Yoodo customers, whether directly or indirectly, for 3 years after the merger.
- Celcom, Digi, Telenor and the Axiata Group may not acquire Yoodo again after the divestment, for a period of 3 years, whether indirectly or directly.
- If Celcom failed to dispose Yoodo, it must shut down Yoodo within 3 months (after the expiry of the 18-months above).
- Celcom, Digi, Telenor and the Axiata Group may not revive the Yoodo brand after the termination/disposal.
The pledge that was signed by the CEOs of both Celcom and Digi also include protecting the interest of the new buyer of Yoodo.
MCMC even detailed the terms of the potential sale, including protecting the supply chain for Yoodo to provide its services, after it is sold to a new buyer, giving the new owner of Yoodo a piece of mind.
However, there has not been a single mention by MCMC about protecting the rights of existing Yoodo customers, estimated to be around 160,000 – 200,000 at the time of writing.
In fact, MCMC made sure that Yoodo customers will not be provided any mobile services if Celcom can’t find a buyer for it.
As a Yoodo customer, among the questions in my mind include the following:
Will Yoodo customers become “homeless” without a mobile network by the end of 2024, because of the foolishness of MCMC and the greed of Celcom shareholders?
Didn’t Celcom spend tens of millions in ringgit just to launch Yoodo? So Why is Yoodo being treated like a stepchild…throwing it away like it didn’t matter? Would Celcom do the same with Xpax or its Postpaid business?
Why is MCMC asking Celcom to dispose Yoodo? Is Yoodo a big threat to MCMC?
Yoodo is not perfect, but it was different. Even Maxis and other Telcos tried to be like Yoodo and they failed.
Among the things I enjoyed being Yoodo customer include:
- The flexibility of changing my monthly plan every month or anytime
- The option to keep my line active for a month, for just RM3/month
- Roam like Home allows me to use my existing voice and Internet data plan in other countries, the only prepaid mobile plan in Malaysia that allows this. (In my case, an additional RM30/week)
- RM20 for 20GB Internet is a really good deal (that RM1 per 1GB), and no speed caps.
- 3 hours of 100GB for RM5 is also a good deal for short term usage (like downloading a big file), although you will never be able to finish it.
- With Yoodo voice minutes, you can call any local numbers, including special numbers, no additional charges like all other Telcos impose. Its the only mobile plan with such voice offering.
- It is also super easy to retrieve the e-SIM from Yoodo, allowing me to quickly change my SIM. (other big Telcos requires that you walk in to a service centre during business hour and fill up a form, in 2022)
For Yoodo customers, it is likely that you may not be able to directly port out to Celcom (Xpax/Pospaid) or Digi for 3 years (estimated 2023-2026) after the merger, which is set to be completed by the end of 2022. (Hint: Best to port out now).
Of course, there’s also the legal option for unhappy Yoodo customers to challenge the decisions made by Celcom and MCMC, but that may be a long shot.
This is a commentary. The views/comments/opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the view of MalaysianWireless.