|Datuk Yeoh Seok Hong: ¡®What we are building is a new 4G highway.¡¯
The Star Online, November 9, 2009
By B.K. SIDHU
The accords are to develop applications for WiMAX
PETALING JAYA: YTL Communications Sdn Bhd (YTL Com), which is planning a commercial nationwide roll-out of its WiMAX wireless service in July next year, will also use its network as a test bed for WiMAX-enabled devices and applications.
Tomorrow, the YTL Power Bhd unit is slated to sign agreements with several partners, including US-based chipmaker GCT Semiconductor Inc, to fund a global programme to get innovators and creators from all over the world to develop applications for WiMAX.
This move may also see device makers using Malaysia as their springboard to test their WiMAX-enabled devices.
Globally, there are pockets of areas where WiMAX technology is deployed to push wireless services, but the lack of devices or applications allows limited mass adoption.
“What we are building is a new 4G highway that would be available nationwide and this will enable people to ride on a higher plane with our mobility solutions,” YTL Com executive director Datuk Yeoh Seok Hong said.
“At the same time, we are stimulating innovation which will transform Malaysia into an innovative network centre,’’ he said, but declined to elaborate on the innovation fund that would be launched tomorrow.
Yeoh said Malaysians would get a complete solution for work, play and relaxation with the company’s offering and reckoned the deployment of WiMAX in the country would be faster than anywhere in the world.
YTL Com is investing RM2.5bil for the nationwide roll-out and has teamed up with several international partners to deploy its network.
The WiMAX Forum claims that 504 operators in 145 countries have deployed WiMAX. Many use the older 802.16d technology that cannot provide mobile services but YTL Com is opting for the 4G WiMAX which can provide complete mobility solutions.
It is reported that Sprint, Clearwire and Comcast in the United States, UQ Communications in Japan, and Yota in Russia are all aggressively rolling out mobile-capable 4G networks using the current version of WiMAX, 802.16e (2 to 10 Mbps), in urban markets where they will inevitably compete with 3G and, later, long-term evolution providers.
Asked about the pricing for the services, Yeoh said it was not ready yet, but added: “From a pricing point of view, it has to be relevant even though we are investing and our shareholders will demand that we make money.’’
YTL Com is out to get a share of the under-served market and about 75% of Malaysia’s population are without Internet. “We are here not to compete but to create new markets,’’ he told StarBiz.
The company recently appointed Wing K. Lee its chief executive officer. Lee was formerly with Clearwire where he led the next-generation mobile Internet device development. Clearwire is YTL Com’s technology partner. Prior to that, Lee spent 15 years at Sprint Nextel.
“A pipe is nothing if there are no applications. When there is innovation, it does not take long for mass adoption (of a service),’’ Lee said.
Three of the four WiMAX spectrum holders have rolled out services in select areas but none on a scale that YTL Com has in mind.
The company was slapped with a RM1.9mil fine for failure to meet stipulated targets in its WiMAX roll-out. Yeoh said the company had filed an appeal with the industry regulator against the fine and was awaiting a response.
Despite the fine, he said the company would go ahead with its plans to roll out the service next year.