For a long time now, the 4G operator scene in Malaysia has been dominated by four companies — Celcom, Digi, Maxis and U Mobile. However, at the end of last year, we reported that there would be a new player entering the scene in 2016 and it seems this could be it.
The mobile industry is a booming one, with more and more industry players want to get a slice of it, be it manufacturers or telco providers. Set to be the latest horse to enter the race, TM is setting its sights on a 2016 entry into the mobile telco industry in Malaysia. This will complicate things, to say the least, for the existing four players – Maxis, Celcom, Digi and U Mobile.
UPDATE: TM invests RM350 million for 57% stake in P1 to roll out LTE services. More details here.
TM — Malaysia’s largest broadband service provider — is expected to announce its acquisition of P1 — a long struggling 4G operator — to the tune of RM2 billion today but many may not know that the two were once fierce competitors.
Back in 2009, P1 under the helm of Michael Lai (who was previously the CEO of now defunct TMNet), was a vibrant, fledgling operator right at the cutting edge of wireless technology. P1 was the first operator in the region to launch a WiMAX network. From an unknown, P1 grew to become a serious player in the wireless space with one of the largest and fastest growing WiMAX networks in the world. With that P1 enjoyed a healthy growth in subscribers. The new operator made all the right moves and seemed unstoppable
With Michael Lai as CEO, P1 was ambitious. Back then WiMAX was seen as the one technology that could deliver speed and performance that’s on par to fixed broadband solutions and P1 believed it could take on a giant in fixed broadband services. Michael was confident it could take on Telekom Malaysia.
It was David versus Goliath. A fast growing, greenfield operator that had a lot of verve but with limited resources taking on the nation’s old guards of broadband with massive resources. It was an entertaining match-up that gave us the memorable “Potong” campaign where P1 called Malaysians to cut the wires of fixed broadband and moved to wireless.
Obviously TM wasn’t going to take it lying down and it responded with an equally cheeky campaign making fun of some of the issues that P1 had with its wireless network.
P1 had its day with the Potong campaign. The brand sky-rocketed from an unknown to a household name and the promise of wireless freedom resonated with Malaysians.
That was five years ago. The broadband landscape is much different now. Since then, TM has strengthened its market position with UniFi, other wireless operators have adopted the more widely accepted 4G LTE standard and P1 was stuck in a rut, struggling to grow its base and its network.
Today’s acquisition announcement is interesting because many industry seniors hark back at the epic battle that TM and P1 once had. Many made jokes that a company that once wanted to “potong” so bad now has no choice but to “sambung balik” with TM but is that really the case? Perhaps not.
Fixed broadband while still in demand, is a stagnant market in Malaysia and the acquisition of P1 is important to TM as it looks to diversify its business beyond fixed broadband services. TM will gain access to valuable spectrum that will allow it to roll out 4G LTE services.
TM has set an ambitious target for its wireless business. By 2017, the operator wants to have 1 million wireless subscribers and the acquisition of P1′s 2.3GHz and 2.6GHz spectrum will be key to this goal. By acquiring P1, TM will not only have access to P1′s existing customer base but also to P1′s valuable infrastructure that consists of over 2,000 base stations nationwide including East Malaysia.
So did P1 sambung balik with TM or is TM finally embracing potong and going wireless? We can’t help but feel that Michael Lai is smiling.
UPDATE: TM invests RM350 million for 57% stake in P1 to roll out LTE services. More details here.
Months of speculation on who will acquire P1 may very well come to an end tomorrow if a media invite issued by Telekom Malaysia is anything to go by.
The invite issued today stated that Malaysia’s largest broadband provider “will be signing a milestone agreement with several industry players that are involved in wireless technologies for a collaboration which will bring immense benefit to the telecommunications industry as well as the Malaysian consumers at large.”
Interestingly both TM and Green Packet — the company that holds controlling stake in P1 — has suspended trading of share for tomorrow.
According to a Malaysian Reserve report citing sources close to the matter, TM is believed to have successfully acquired a controlling stake in 4G operator, P1.
“All details of the deal are being finalised. A signing ceremony between Green Packet and TM will be held soon.
“TM is buying a portion of Green Packet’s stake in P1,” said the source.
Predictably, TM has refused to comment on the matter but the prevailing rumour indicates that TM is expected to dish out over RM2 billion for P1 stake in a bit to expand its product portfolio beyond fixed broadband services.
The news brings to closure the much-delayed merger and acquisition exercise involving P1 since 2011, with the shortlisted potential buyers besides TM, included DiGi and YTL.
The merger is important to TM as it looks to diversify its business beyond fixed broadband services. Troubled 4G operator P1 owns valuable wireless spectrum, including the 2.3GHz band (that is currently being use for its WiMAX network), and the 2.6GHz band, which can be used for 4G LTE services. TM on the other hand, has the 450MHz and 850MHz bands that it has been using for CDMA voice and data services. While these lower bands can be used for LTE, the 2.6GHz band is one of the two widely accepted standard in Malaysia (the other being the 1800MHz band) allowing TM to tap into a bigger catalogue of LTE equipment and devices that in turn will make network expansion and subscriber acquisition relatively easier.
“If the deal happens, TM will gain access to P1’s existing customer base and valuable infrastructure that can be utilised by TM for faster growth in the wireless segment.
“TM will then be a very large player in the business, as they would have a combined deployment of low- and high-frequency bands,” an analyst told The Malaysian Reserve.
TM has set an ambitious target for its wireless business. By 2017, the operator wants to have 1 million wireless subscribers and the acquisition of P1’s 2.3GHz and 2.6GHz spectrum will be key to this goal. By acquiring P1, TM will not only have access to P1’s existing customer base but also to P1’s valuable infrastructure that consists of over 2,000 base stations nationwide including East Malaysia.
Read the full Malaysian Reserve report here.
U Mobile today jumped on the LTE bandwagon by providing 4G services in limited locations within Klang Valley and Johor Bahru.
U Mobile claims its LTE network is capable of delivering speeds up 75Mbps but take that claim with a dollop of salt as virtually all operators publish theoretical maximum connection speed that’s almost impossible to achieve in real world situations.
But the good thing about the U Mobile LTE plans is that its available for prepaid users as well and the plans on offer cover a wide customer base giving you some very affordable and practical options.
Using LTE on U Mobile is painless because you don’t have to go through the hassle of upgrading plans or changing SIM cards. If you’re a U Mobile customer and you’re using an LTE device then you’re pretty much set, all you need to do is activate LTE services by sending the text message ‘LTE ON’ to 28118.
The only issue is that U Mobile’s LTE coverage is very limited at the moment but the operator say that they are expanding coverage at a brisk pace while exploring other “strategic approaches” for network expansion. Currently U Mobile’s LTE network spans Bandar Sunway, Subang Jaya, Puchong, Berjaya Times Square and Taman Molek in Johor Bahru.
And if you’re an iPhone or iPad user, you’re out of luck because U Mobile’s LTE network does not currently support the Band 3 (1800MHz) channel that some Apple devices are running but if you’re using the iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C, iPad mini Retina display and iPad Air then you’re good.
In conjunction with its LTE launch, U Mobile is offering the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 for RM999 if you sign up for the Ultimate Device 158 plan with a commitment fee of RM120 per month for 24 months. The offer starts today to 17 December 2013 to 31 January 2014. For full details on U Mobile’s LTE offerings, click here.
The wait for Celcom’s 4G LTE service is finally over and they have finally revealed its Broadband Plan with download speeds up to 50Mbps. The 4G LTE service is tied with their Celcom First Data Pro plan which offers 10GB of data at RM138/month.
At the moment they cover Bandar Sunway, Shah Alam, Putrajaya, Danau Kota, Jalan Imbi, Jalan Pudu, Bangsar, Jalan Tun Razak, KLCC in the Klang Valley. Selected places at Ipoh, Pulau Pinang, Johor Bahru and Melaka are covered as well. You can check for the full list of its coverage here.
As an early bird promotion, they are offering the 4G LTE Modem for only RM199 with 3 months free subscription. This is limited to the first 1,000 sign up and it can be done at Blue Club @ Sunway Pyramid, Blue Cube Pavilion and Blue Club Menara Celcom tomorrow onwards (23rd April 2013).
To promote Celcom’s 4G LTE service as the fastest network, they have gotten some help from Usain Bolt which is known as the fastest man in the world.
Check out the official commercial starring the Jamaican sprinter after the break. For more information on the service, head over to Celcom’s 4G LTE page for more info.
Celcom today has unveiled its foray into the LTE race by launching its 4G LTE Experience Hubs. The experience centres are located at Menara Celcom in Kuala Lumpur and its Blue Club flagship store at Sunway Pyramid.
Celcom’s 4G LTE network runs on the 2600MHz LTE spectrum which came into effect this year. This practically means if you have a new device that supports 2600MHz (Band 7), it is likely to be compatible with their network once their service is commercially available. Among its future 4G LTE product portfolio includes Huawei’s array of 4G LTE USB dongles, tablets & smart phones.
For a start, Celcom will only be introducing data only plans in February and smart phone plans are expected to follow right after.If you’re eager to try it out yourself, head over to their experience hubs.
For more information, visit Celcom’s 4G LTE page.
There has been as much confusion as there is interest about the latest wireless technology to hit Malaysia — LTE. LTE is capable of delivering download speeds up to 100Mbps and promises to offload data traffic from 3G networks struggling to keep up with an ever increasing load and when voice-over LTE comes to Malaysia, we will be able to enjoy much improved call quality with HD Voice. But unlike the current crop of 3G smartphones, the availability of phones that are compatible with the 2600MHz (Band 7) LTE standard used in Malaysia is rare and many are asking what phones currently in the market support the 2600MHz frequency.
Before that, let’s start off with LTE devices on sale in Malaysia that are not compatible with 2600MHz. The iPhone 5, iPad mini and iPad 4 are not compatible with Malaysia’s LTE network. Here’s a more detailed breakdown:
Currently, there are three devices that are compatible with 2600MHz – ASUS Padfone 2, Nokia Lumia 920 and Lumia 820. We got in touch with Mark Dioguardi, Chief Operating Officer at Maxis and he confirms that the three devices will work with Maxis LTE.
The problem is, the LTE plans available from Maxis at the moment are for data only. So while you can put a Maxis LTE SIM card into an LTE compatible phone and you will be able to access data services, you won’t be able to make or receive phone calls. For this Dioguardi says that Maxis “will be announcing LTE enabled plans to support LTE SmartPhones soon.” And that’s something we’re curious about.
Let’s also look at devices in the horizon that will work here. The soon to be release Sony Xperia V supports 2600MHz. There are also versions of the Samsung Galaxy S III (GT-I9305) and Galaxy Note II (GT-N7105) that support 2600MHz as well, so it’s safe to assume that operators looking to make LTE phones available in Malaysia in the shortest time possible will chose to offer these models. In addition to this, there is a growing list of multi-band LTE smartphones that will be compatible with 2600Mhz and as operators like Maxis and Celcom continue to expand their LTE networks, the selection of LTE devices for you to choose will grow as well.
Got a question about LTE? Let us know and we’ll try our best to answer them.
Information made available to us has revealed that Celcom is very close to launching its LTE network and it likely to happen this week. Supporting this information is the LTE experiential booth that Celcom has setup at its headquarters in KL. Customers wanting to know more about Celcom’s LTE network can visit Menara Celcom to try out the service themselves.
Like Maxis, we expect Celcom to have its LTE service available in a few key market areas and gradually expand coverage and subscriber momentum builds up. Also, we don’t expect Celcom to offer LTE smartphones in its initial launch however there are three phones in the market right now that supports the 2600Mhz LTE standard in Malaysia – ASUS PadFone 2, Nokia Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 – but it remains to be seen if Celcom (and Maxis) have provisioned its network to allow these devices to surf on LTE data.
We’ll be on hand to try our Celcom’s network when it is available, stay tuned for updates on plans and pricing. And finally, no, the iPhone 5 will not work on Malaysia’s LTE network. Hope this clears any confusion.
This has to be the most surprising announcement we’ve ever received. Just as Malaysians usher the New Year, Maxis has launched the first salvo in the next generation war for mobile dominance.
In an official statement Maxis has announced that it now has LTE networks available at Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Damansara Utama, Desa Sri Hartamas, Bandar Puchong Jaya, Bandar Sunway and Cyberjaya, and by doing so, is officially the first telco in Malaysia to make LTE available in the country. Maxis plans to light up other parts of the country with LTE “soon”.
Maxis claims that its LTE network is able to reach speed of up to 75Mbps. The operator say subscribers can expect a typical average speeds of 10Mbps to 30Mbps.
Along with the new network Maxis plans to bring new services that takes advantage of the superior wireless capabilities that LTE has to offer.
You can subscribe to Maxis’ LTE can subscribe to the service at Maxis Centres in KLCC and Taman Tun Dr Ismail. There is no additional charge for LTE on Maxis. The service is available with any of Maxis existing data plans starting from RM88/month. Existing subscribers can also upgrade their current Maxis 3G modem to an LTE modem for a fee. Full details available here.
Currently only one LTE device (modem) is available from Maxis but the operator says that more devices including smartphones will be available “soon”. At the moment we know that the ASUS PadFone 2 as well as the Nokia Lumia 920 and 820 are compatible with the 2600Mhz LTE network in Malaysia but it is not known if Maxis has provisioned its network to allow these to run on LTE.