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YTLe promises converged mobile Internet

The Edge, May 11, 2009

The most interesting player in the Malaysian broadband space is undoubtedly YTL e-Solutions. Its recent announcement that it would invest up to RM2.5 billion in rolling out its services had its WiMAX peers and the broadband industry in general shaking their heads in disbelief.

While the others started out in small and targeted urban pockets before rolling out to suburban and rural areas, Tan Sri Francis Yeoh, executive chairman and managing director of YTL e-Solutions Bhd, wants nothing less than nationwide-ready service. The business model he adopts will be interesting to see but for now, he is playing his cards close to his chest. Nonetheless, Yeoh took some questions from The Edge on the converged mobile Internet that he believes will transform the broadband market.

Making a late entry into the market, are you concerned that your competitors have improved their services and locked in customers?

We believe our timing is perfectly right. The technology has matured to a level where it can now enable us to deliver our nationwide strategy. When we launch our services, we will be setting a new benchmark and will continue to raise the bar to be ahead of our competitors. We will be creating a new nationwide market called converged mobile Internet, which is unavailable at the moment, so the concern that competitors have locked in customers simply does not arise. For example, MP3 player technology which arrived much later in the personal music market is now a market leader and has resulted in the CD player becoming virtually obsolete. At the end of the day, the best customer experience and value will win.

You are planning to offer voice too, which puts you in competition with mobile telcos. What value proposition can you offer customers that will entice them away from their present service provider?

We are not in direct competition with the current mobile telcos. We are in the business of creating a new market called converged mobile Internet. The future will be a data-centric market offering multimedia services that are not limited to voice services.

With strong partners on the technical side, would you say that your biggest challenge will be in the marketing side?

We will deliver excellent nationwide converged mobile Internet services at affordable prices. If we can create the products and services that the market wants, the market will drive the business. It is about listening to our customers, being honest to them and constantly innovating to deliver what they really want.

All the WiMAX players say site acquisition is the most challenging part of getting the network up. It is also expensive, with landlords charging between RM2,500 and RM7,000 per site. How will you tackle this challenge?

We are facing the same challenges as all the other service providers. We believe we have our own solutions.


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