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Thursday, 18 November 2010

4G service from YTL upbeat, Lower prices for Internet services?

Coming up Friday 4G service, five times faster than current 3G


Launch set to make big impact on high-tech market

KUALA LUMPUR: It will be five times faster than the current 3G network but the price will be compatible ... very affordable and the best price.

That is all YTL Communications Sdn Bhd executive chairman Tan Sri Francis Yeoh will say for now about the rates of the much-anticipated 4G wireless broadband service or Yes to be launched Friday.

It will have the lowest rate in the industry with no monthly commitment and conditions, he said, in an interview with StarBiz, adding that the product line-up for the launch would include a 4G smartphone developed with Samsung (called Yes Buzz), USB dongle, MiFi device and a desktop WiFi router.

Yes, the next generation high-speed data service, is expected to have a coverage of up to 65% of the peninsula from day one while the states or areas which are not yet included will be covered not too long from now, according to Yeoh. The company has spent some RM2.5bil for the Yes 4G infrastructure.

“It will be five times faster than the current 3G network but the price will be compatible ... very affordable and the best price,” says YTL Communications Sdn Bhd executive chairman Tan Sri Francis Yeoh during the interview with StarBiz.

Tomorrow's launch has generated much excitement. Yeoh stressed that YTL Comms, with a staff strength of 2,000 built up over the past year, will be the first in the world to offer a converged 4G network voice, mobile Internet and mobile broadband.

Unlike current offerings where mobile data and voice are separated, we will bring everything into one plan with no additional charge. There will also be mobile TV at the end of next year, he said.

Yes will put Malaysia on par with the South Koreans, Singaporeans and Japanese on the technology front, Yeoh said, adding that the multiplier effect of such a technology was that it raised efficiency and productivity. With every 10% increase in broadband penetration, this increases the GDP by 1.3%, he said.

The response has been more than encouraging so far. Even prior to the launch, YTL Comms has received tens of thousands of pre-registrations three times above expectation which Yeoh said could partly be a reflection of the frustrations over the current wireless Internet speed.

3G is a legacy service. It is developed using voice technology and it can't cope with the massive amount of data that consumers are demanding. Devices such as iPhone and iPad have put a massive strain on current 3G networks. How many times have we tried to open files and experienced the buffering and streaming taking forever? The speed of our Yes' network is just amazing. Once people taste it, they won't go back to the old service, Yeoh said.

Under the Education Partner Programme, YTL Comms is providing free broadband services to 400,000 university students.

Quite interestingly, YTL's 4G network will be SIM-less. Simply put, Yeoh said the network runs on a user ID that comes with its own mobile number.

You don't need a SIM card and you're not locked on to one device. All you need to do is log-on using your user ID (we call this the Yes ID) and all your information is accessible on any device. You can log on to multiple devices, all at the same time. It's possible for you to receive a call and have it ring on your hand phone, your computer ... or your home phone, all at the same time. You pick the device most convenient to answer the call or make a call from, he said.

Yeoh said the market is spoilt by the voice network and that Malaysia's mobile call rates are far more expensive than Indonesia's. So many people make so much money on voice. That is why there is no innovation on data, he elaborated.

Under the mobile number portability, existing mobile phone users of other operators can port over their numbers to YTL Comms to enjoy 4G performance and innovation.

Internet is here to stay. That's the business of the future. We are targeting the youth market ... to engage the students. They are the customers we want. We are not targeting customers like my father, he said.

On how YTL's 4G differentiates from existing data networks, Yeoh said that Yes is a fully converged mobile network, and there is no other WiMAX operator in the country that is mobile.

In fact the services offered by Yes are among the first in the world. And this is just the beginning. We will continue to innovate and bring new services into the market, said Yeoh.

For 2011, Yes will offer the world's first wireless quad-play service giving its subscribers access to voice, data and television all on a mobile network.

The next big thing is making the Internet relevant. This entails looking at creating content and developing applications and service to take advantage of the enormous flexibility that the Internet has to offer, and we are ahead of the curve on this. Eventually, everyone will focus on this, because performance will be a given.

Speed is fundamental but everyone will eventually be able to deliver this. The differentiator will be what can you go with that performance, how easy it will be for subscribers to use and how to make it as affordable as possible for everyone, he said.

Analysts expect YTL Comms' entry into the telco sector to galvanise the industry further, heightening competition particularly in the cellular broadband space, given the company's strong financial backing and track record.

Friday November 19, 2010

Lower prices for Internet services?


PETALING JAYA: Competition in the mobile and Internet business is expected to heat up with the entry of YTL Communications Sdn Bhd's Yes service, and some analysts believe that a price war may erupt.

There's a potential (for a price war). With YTL coming into the market, the probability is higher, CLSA Securities Malaysia Sdn Bhd head of research Clare Chin said.

She said the new entrant would also raise competitiveness among telecommunications companies while broadband operators would be worried about their margins.

Expectations surrounding the launch of Yes sent shares in YTL Comms' parent company, YTL Power International Bhd, to their highest level in almost three years in early trade yesterday. The counter ended eight sen, or 3.19%, to RM2.59 but off the intra-day high of RM2.64.

An analyst said the new entrant did not bring in competition automatically. He said telcos would up the ante against each other to woo customers in a saturated market and that was where the competition or price war would kick in.

In crowded markets where penetration (of voice) exceeds 100%, it can be difficult for an operator to distinguish itself from its competitors if it can only offer the same services.

To differentiate, it needs to be able to offer something new and different with better value proposition, the analyst said.

While competition is good for the consumer, it is not so for the local telcos which have spent the last few years battling each other in a price war, where consumers ultimately reaped the benefits in terms of low mobile call and SMS rates.

Every player's nightmare would be a price war, as margins would be pushed lower, hurting revenue, an analyst said.

YTL Comms' Yes 4G wireless broadband service would charge customers nine sen for a minute of call, one SMS or 3MB of data.

And that's before our rebates kick in, YTL Comms said in a teaser yesterday.

According to analysts, at nine sen a minute the service could be the cheapest in the market. However, they prefer to await confirmation from YTL on the price.

Sources said YTL would also be throwing in a rebate as high as 30% for its subscribers.

The more you use, the more rebate you'll get. For example, if you hit a threshold of 3GB, the price will drop and if you hit another threshold at 5GB, the price will continue to drop, the source said.

A simple calculation shows that nine sen per 3MB works out to about RM90 for 3GB, giving users roughly about 2,000 emails.

CLSA Securities' Chin did not discount consumers migrating to the latest network since cellular voice had already reached saturation.

She said consumers may want to choose a service provider that could offer them a better value proposition.
Investors are getting too excited, too early, Chin said, adding that today's event was just a launch and the hybrid TV would only be launched by end-2011.

Analysts said the triple play, which offers television, Internet and telephone in a single connection, would be the next wave that could change the traditional consumption pattern among Malaysian users of telecommunications services.

Apart from coming up with new products and services to steal customers from rivals, they would also have to entice their existing customers to spend more.

Yes is expected to cover up to 65% of the peninsula from day one. The other areas would be covered later.
The company has spent some RM2.5bil for the Yes 4G infrastructure.

The 4G network will be SIM-less with the 018 prefix.

In a report, OSK Research said that YTL Comms would need to capture at least 300,000 subscribers based on the assumption of average revenue per user of RM100 a month, given the steep initial investment outlay and operating expenditure.

Although the prices of WiMAX equipment and devices have fallen by over a third in the last two years, we believe YTL Comms would probably have to provide a steep upfront subsidy to lure subscribers given the stiff market competition as well as high mobile penetration rate, it said.

YTL Comms is also launching its flagship store at Lot 10 in Kuala Lumpur today after the official launch of the new service.