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TM prefers 700MHz over 3.5GHz spectrum to provide faster broadband for rural areas

It is reported that Telekom Malaysia is looking forward to the allocation of the 700MHz spectrum which will enable them to offer fixed wireless access (FWA) to rural folks in an economical and feasible manner. According to HLIB Research analyst, Tan J Young, TM has mentioned during a meeting that isn’t keen on C-Band (3.5GHz) and it is better suited for wireless players.

It is mentioned that TM does not intend to be another player in the already overcrowded and oversaturated mobile market which currently has a high penetration rate of approximately 130%. According to the HLIB Research, the current Unifi Mobile offering is merely positioned “to complement fixed offerings with a convergence proposition”.

TM’s infrastructure company (InfraCo) is separated from its service arm (ServiceCo) and it allows the company to be more agile and neutrally positioned for all access seekers including its own. The InfraCo is focused on providing connectivity which includes fibre rollout and quality of service. Meanwhile, TM’s ServiceCo is focused on delivering services to address customer needs.

It was announced early this year that TM is the first in the world to trial 5G SA in both 700MHz and 3.5GHz bands simultaneously. Its 700MHz 5G SA network is said to be the first of its kind outside of China.

During the 5G Demonstration Project in Langkawi, TM had highlighted the importance of 700MHz to provider faster broadband access with a wider coverage. This is seen as a possible solution for customers that lack fibre broadband access. Since 700MHz is a lower frequency band, a single tower can theoretically cover an area up to 10 km which is ideal for rural areas.

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Although 700MHz could also be used for 4G, 5G would provide greater efficiency with 20-30% better performance. During their tests in Langkawi, TM’s 700MHz SA network can deliver download speeds of over 200Mbps, which is 7x higher than the current NFCP’s target of providing an average of 30Mbps to 98% of populated areas by 2023.

The government had recently allocated the 700MHz spectrum to TM and 4 other players under a ministerial order by the Communications and Multimedia Minister. According to the letter, TM was assigned 2x 5MHz blocks of the 700MHz band. After it the move was publicised, the minister had retracted the spectrum assignment order and have promised to review the spectrum allocation.


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Alexander Wong