Tuesday, October 15

DiGi sets new precedence with ‘4G’ technologies

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Henrik Clausen

KUCHING: DiGi.com (DiGi) is setting a new industry precedence in driving demand for the Internet through investments in expanding the reach of 3G coverage, which will be multiplied manyfold with the arrival of long-term evolution (LTE/4G), the next-generation mobile technology.

With the advent of 4G technology and smartphones, the LTE network which is capable of delivering download speeds of up to 172Mbps will play an integral part of future business.

Industry indicators suggested that consumers were now hungry for high-end applications and smartphones, rather than just making a call or SMS.

“The industry trend for the past two years has seen a tremendous rise in Internet applications, stimulated by better surfing experience (improved speed with enhanced 3G coverage) and availability of more choices of smart devices at affordable prices, amongst others,” DiGi chief executive officer Henrik Clausen told The Borneo Post in an interview recently.

While the industry is embarking on the improved technology, DiGi is playing its part by swapping all its old network equipment to be LTE-ready.

“We are already in the midst of modernising out network. With the new network, the current platform will be able to support 2G, 3G and 4G technologies, making our whole operations more cost efficient,” he revealed.

The 4G technology would allow for substantially higher speed, stability and Internet access to more Malaysians through wider coverage.

This was extremely relevant now as more Malaysians adopted the usage of smartphones stimulated by the popularity of social media applications, affordable smartphones and smart bundling.

“In tandem, early adopters are becoming more savvy, demanding for sophisticated applications and richer content. All these mean there is demand for more bandwidth,” Clausen added.

Industry regulator, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) in November 2010 issued temporary licenses to nine players for the use of spectrum in the 2.6GHz bandwidth. Since then, all operators were asked to submit detailed business plans in January to MCMC, outlining their use of the spectrum.

To date, the regulator has yet to make a decision on the final list of spectrum licencees.

“LTE is a critical part of DiGi’s plan and we have implemented the necessary building blocks to start rolling out an LTE-ready network this year, with plans to be the first to have an LTE-ready network nationwide by the end of 2012. We expect the network to have fully swapped LTE-capability by the end of next year,” said Clausen.

“Hopefully the allocation of spectrum is going to be solved in the next couple of months. We are currently waiting for two things – the access to spectrum and timetables that allow us to launch the service. We are very keen to get a response from MCMC in the near future,” he added.

With the Telenor Group as its major shareholder, DiGi has the added advantage as the parent company has rolled out 4G services in the Scandinavian countries. The lessons learnt from those exercises would come in handy when 4G is introduced in Malaysia.

“We’ve spent the last 15 months preparing our business for the next phase of data explosion. We are taking bigger steps to address the maturing market since we started our transformation in four key areas of network modernisation – modernising our IT network and processes, enhancing distribution and bringing our the best in our people,” Henrik explained.

With the LTE technology, the market would also see new players arising and network equipment manufacturers such as ZTE, Ericsson, NSN (Nokia Siemens Networks) and Huawei would be hard pressed to provide competitive rates for their products, that in return would enable operators to offer affordable mobile services to local consumers.

“If you look at the sector, there is no doubt that Malaysia is a very important growth engine for foreign players and there is no reason why investment levels should go down. Industry indicators show that there are still solid investments flowing into the telco sector – proof as you can see commitment from U Mobile,YTL and so on,” Henrik pointed out.

“Initiatives that focus on customer service, better services through investment in launching a brand new network that enables faster deployment of LTE from the operators will emerge as priorities.

“We have the ambition of being the enabler of connectivity for Malaysians. Building a brand new LTE-ready network, bringing the latest and most varied smartphones to customers at affordable prices coupled with smart bundles are just examples of our commitment..

“In the long run the landscape will rapidly transform and players will be hard pressed to keep ahead of the dynamic changes as users demand greater efficiencies and sophisticated services that are yet to be rolled out,” Henrik concluded..