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YTL in RM3b broadband push

Business Times, April 24, 2009

By Goh Thean Eu

It will spend one-third of that in the next 12 months as it seeks to play catch-up. Out of the four firms licensed to provide high-speed wireless Internet access, it is the only one that has yet to launch its service commercially in a big way.

YTLE, which will spend RM2.5 billion on the network, is tying up with South Korean electronics giant Samsung Electronics Co.

The company will use its own money for the investment, managing director Tan Sri Francis Yeoh said in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

 "We will start rolling out (the wireless infrastructure) immediately. We have identified 2,000 sites. We have mapped it. We know where we are going to put all the base stations already," he added.

Unlike its rivals which have launched their wireless services in geographical stages, YTL will commercially launch its wireless services, comprising voice and data, only when it has nationwide coverage.

"If you do it in stages, it won't work and it's not fair. This kind of technology doesn't work like that. It just won't work. Not enough equipment maker is going to support you. Not enough network people are going to support.

"And then you are killing yourself. How many people are going to have this experience? For example, I go out of Kuala Lumpur. I cannot use (the service) already. Who are you kidding? Just KL for KL? It's not right to me," Yeoh said.

When the government awarded the WiMAX licences, the four companies were expected to expand their network to cover 25 per cent of the population by end-March this year.

However, it is unclear if any of them met the target.

"At the end of the day, it's about achieving the national broadband objectives. Actually, our programme is ahead of the government's programme in terms of nationwide coverage," Yeoh said.

In 14 months, YTLE will launch its wireless broadband services nationwide covering 70 per cent of the population.

Yeoh was speaking to the media after the signing ceremony between YTLE and Samsung Electronics. Samsung has agreed to supply network equipment and handsets to YTLE.

YTLE is one of the four companies awarded the licence to offer wireless broadband services using WiMAX technology. The others are Packet One Networks (M) Sdn Bhd (a unit of Green Packet), REDtone International Bhd and Asiaspace Sdn Bhd.

WiMAX, short for worldwide interoperability for microwave access, is a telecommunications technology that provides transmission of data. It works like the current popular WiFi technology.

A WiFi hotspot can cover a radius of tens of metres. In contrast, a WiMAX base station can cover several kilometres. The technology also promises the ability to surf the Internet from laptops while in a park, on a bus during a traffic jam, or anywhere in a residential neighbourhood.

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