Tuesday, December 14, 2010

DiGi needs fibre optics too

Just minutes after Maxis Bhd seals a 10 year deal to buy capacity on Telekom Malaysia Bhd's Unifi, Time dotCom Bhd and DiGi.Com Bhd decides that they should do something similar.
DiGi has dished out RM139mil contract to Time to build a fiber optic network over a 10 year period. 
All boils to fibre, will it be the game changer in the future?These two cellular giants are getting serious with fibre, wonder what is Celcom Axiata doing?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Set things right in the telecoms industry

SO much has been said by so many people over the past month or so about the way some things are done in the country's telecoms industry.
The hot talk from coffee tables to the blogosphere, the mainstream media and brought up in Parliament included:
● the way nine companies were assigned the 2.6Ghz or 4G LTE spectrum recently;
● the RMbil netbook scheme;
● the allocation and usage of the RM4bil USP fund; and
● the one that caught even the Prime Minister's eye allegations that one party is allowed to hog a large chunk of the 700Mhz spectrum band.
People are expressing their views whether via the mainstream media or blogs and some of the things they are saying cannot be ignored.
Some, unfortunately, went to the extreme. What with all the mud-slinging, even the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission was dragged in.
Malaysians will say a resounding ‘Yes’ to more transparency in the country’s telecoms industry, including the awarding of spectrum.
Had there be more transparency from the onset, could things have panned out differently? Damage control is not easy and some parties attempting this just seem to be failing miserably.
Whilst we understand the Government's perspective in delivering things for the rakyat and perhaps those involved got over-zealous in trying to get the latest technology to connecting too fast and too wide, the policy-makers should have taken a moment to ponder on what is really needed to go forward.
There are lessons to be learnt from this episode; it depends on whether one is willing to listen and make the changes.
A case in point is the award of nine spectra to nine companies. This begs a question are we opening the floodgates for a rationalisation? Previously, seven spectra were dished out and the mobile industry was forced to consolidate to three players.
Spectrum awards should be put to test after market assessment rather than letting the market absorb the number of players, and seriously, do we really need nine to serve 28 million people?
Now that we have rushed to 4G, has someone taken stock of what spectrum has been used thus far and how much of it has been used to provide services to the rakyat?
Giving out computers is a noble thing initiated by the Government. But the Government got a lot of flak as allegations mounted that some of those who got the computers free, sold them.
Perhaps some units were given to the wrong people but we cannot build a society on that premise. We need a proper approach to ensure delivery only to the deserving and those who will appreciate the netbooks.
It is plain truth that there is a need for a common infrastructure so that all players can use it. For the growth and benefit of the industry, a single party should not be running a common infrastructure. Does this need to be re-told, over and over again, and do we need to rush to do things again?
As for the USP fund, it was a great idea. It is noble to bridge the digital divide but has someone done real checks in the remote places to see if the money has been well spent before more is pumped to fund expansion? Checks and balances are vital so that the rural folks also get on the Web.
The Government wants the best for the rakyat in terms of technology so we cannot afford a confusing state of affairs.
All the brouhaha should serve as lessons to move forward. It is imperative that the views of the rakyat be taken seriously. There should be pooling of resources and most critical of all, that there be transparency all the way.
No way should we repeat a rationalisation exercise and that is the route the younger generation wants to avoid as they'd rather be going forward than consolidating and doing damage control.
Deputy news editor B.K. Sidhu hopes to learn something new everyday.
(Published in The Star on Dec 10, 2010 - Friday Reflections By B.K. Sidhu))