October 15, 2010 10:07 AM

Only Nine Telcos Get 4G Apparatus Assignments For Time Being, Says MCMC 

By Tengku Noor Shamsiah Tengku Abdullah

CYBERJAYA, Oct 15 (Bernama) — The government has not assigned the 4G spectrum to any telecommunication company as yet but had merely given apparatus assignments (AA) to nine telcos to pave the way for the early adoption of the long-term evolution (LTE) or 4G technology mobile services, said Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission Chairman Tan Sri Khalid Ramli.


Citing that there was a difference between AA and Spectrum Assignments (SA), he said MCMC only awarded the AA for them to use the 2600MHz spectrum band to roll out their 4G wireless broadband services and had not given them the Spectrum Assignment (SA).

“The decision to award to the nine telcos was made after a lengthy consultative and deliberation process with various technical groups which started about two years ago. It was not something which was done a month ago,” he told Bernama.

Khalid said the nine telcos, which had been picked based on their experience, technological capability in promoting innovation and financial strength, had been asked to submit detailed business plans by year-end on what they planned to do.

An apparatus assignment confers rights on a company to use the spectrum to operate a network facility of a specified kind at a specified frequency or in any specified frequency band or bands.

4G, which refers to the fourth generation of cellular wireless technology standards, is the successor to 3G and 2G families of standards. 4G technology can deliver 100 Mbps or megabits per second, which allows a music album to be downloaded as fast as five seconds or an hour-long TV show in about 30 seconds.

The companies that had been awarded the AA by MCMC include existing 3G and WiMAX players, and a new entrant. They are Celcom Axiata Berhad, Maxis Broadband Sdn Bhd, DiGi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd, U-Mobile Sdn Bhd, Asiaspace Sdn Bhd, Packet One Networks (M) Sdn Bhd, RedTone Marketing Sdn Bhd, YTL Communications Sdn Bhd and Puncak Semangat Sdn Bhd.

Khalid said MCMC may award the SA if it was satisfied with the business plan and service readiness of the telcos in installing their equipment and services.

These companies were also required to pay annual fees to MCMC in order to use the AA to roll out their 4G services and would not receive grants of any kind from MCMC or from the Universal Service Provision (USP) Fund, which was specifically for developing communications facilities in the rural areas, he explained.

“If they want a piece of action, they will actually have to pay for it,” he said, adding that the government would consider giving the SA later on if they could prove their capability.

“We may decide on that later on. In the past, we did allocate the spectrum at a much higher fee. This stage hasn’t come as yet (for 4G),” he said in likening MCMC as the regulator and custodian of the Malaysian spectrum.

Khalid also said the government may decide to take back the spectrum if some companies did not perform up to expectations.

Asked why MCMC had decided to award the AA to nine telcos instead of only few like the current market leaders in the country, for example, Khalid said this was based on the need for greater transparency and competition.

Under the provisions of the Communication and Multimedia Act, he said MCMC had to act for the long-term benefit of end-users while taking on a technology-neutral approach.

On why MCMC was initiating 4G technology now while some telcos had yet to provide the full range of 3G or WiMAX technology services, Khalid explained that the regulator was planning for the future.

At certain times in Kuala Lumpur, network congestion occurred due to sharp demand and MCMC had to start work on 4G now to avoid a breakdown in services later, he said.

“It is time to migrate to something better,” he stressed.