Media & Events

Malaysia's Telekom, Maxis win 3G licences

30 Jul 2002, AFP
Telecoms giant Telekom Malaysia and top cellular operator Maxis Communications have been awarded Malaysia's 3G mobile phone spectrum licences, the communications regulator announced. "The government has decided to award only two third-generation telecommunications licences, one each to Telekom Malaysia Bhd and to Maxis Communications Bhd," said Nuraizah Abdul Hamid, chairman of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission. "Only two qualified. The commission believed only two met the requirements," she told reporters. Nuraizah said the awarding of the licences to Telekom and Maxis was conditional on the companies submitting business plans by year-end providing details on how they will fulfill six major criteria. The criteria are service roll-out and coverage, infrastructure sharing, roaming, financial considerations, industry development and management and technical experience. The government would not hesitate to take back the provisional 3G licences if the requirements were not met, she added. Maxis chief executive officer Jamaludin Ibrahim said his firm expects to roll out its 3G service at the end of 2004. "I think in Malaysia the market will be ready in 2004-2005. Maxis's plan will be to roll out 3G towards the end of 2004. We want to be not too early but not too late either," he said. Jamaludin said Maxis was expected to open its tender exercise for 3G infrastructure and equipment by the end of this year. Companies likely to bid for the contracts include Motorola, Siemens, Nokia, Ericsson, Nortel and Alcatel, he added. Jamaludin said Maxis expects to fund its 3G investment with either cash, vendor financing or bank loans, or a combination. Mohamad Khir Harun, TM Cellular chief executive officer, estimated Telekom would invest about 2.0-2.5 billion ringgit (525-658 million dollars) to provide "decent coverage" but added the amount had not yet been finalised. Asked if it is possible to implement 3G in nine months' time, Mohamad Khir said Telekom has the resources to do so but the market may not be ready. "We will introduce (the 3G service) when the market is ready," he said, adding Telekom will be looking to conduct a pilot trial in 2004. Nuraizah said it was possible for more 3G licences to be awarded through a future tender process because it is uncertain if two licences are adequate for the market. "We'll leave our options open ... we have to make sure, first, how the market is going to be because even now we don't know. Too many things are happening," she said. In May the government announced it would award 3G licenses to three companies with each 15-year licence priced at 50 million ringgit. Five companies bid for the licences - Celcom (Malaysia) Bhd, E-Touch Sdn Bhd, state-owned Telekom Malaysia Bhd, TIMESat Sdn Bhd and UMTS (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd. UMTS is a unit of Maxis Communications, Malaysia's largest mobile phone operator. Recently listed Maxis is controlled by Usaha Tegas, the investment firm of tycoon Ananda Krishnan, who built the world's tallest buildings, Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Twin Towers. The 3G networks, which allow speedy access to data and video through the Internet, are expected to be rolled out by the end of next year or early 2004.
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