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Eight operators gain Malaysian LTE spectrum

Market surprised that new entrant gains largest allocation, with 40MHz of bandwidth in the 2.6GHz band


Published: 7 December, 2012

READ MORE: Spectrum | Malaysia | Regulator | LTE

Malaysia is set to be one of the major mobile broadband growth markets in the second half of the decade, but has so far lagged behind some countries in the region because of regulatory delays and disputes. However, the MCMC (Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission) has now made a significant step forward, awarding 2.6GHz licences to eight operators, including a new entrant, for LTE services.

The winning operators are Maxis, Axiata, DiGi, P1, REDtone Marketing, U Mobile, YTL and newcomer Puncak Semangat. The existing players are a mixture of conventional 2G/3G cellcos, and wireless broadband carriers which have previously invested in WiMAX, often in the 2.3GHz band "bring fresh ideas and innovations to the market", though some question whether there are now too many operators to allow for profitable 4G competition.

Local analysts from CIMB Research questioned the decision to allocate the largest block of spectrum, at 40MHz, to Puncak Semangat. The regulator said it made the generous award because it was impressed by the firm's business plan, but without any 2G or 3G coverage the company will be confined to localized or fixed data-only services for a while, or will need to rely on roaming or MVNO deals with rivals to gain full coverage.

P1 Networks, established as a WiMAX player and also a device maker, gain TDD spectrum which will complement its existing capacity and aid WiMAX migration. CEO Michael Lai said in an interview that his firm was "thrilled to have been granted access to 20MHz of 2.6GHz TD spectrum andexcited to be able to offer this next generation of 4G technology to Malaysians."

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