US$195mil capex by Celcom pushes 4G population coverage in 9 states to over 98%
By Digital News Asia December 10, 2021
- Deployed 250 new sites, optimized 8k sites in Malaysia to meet rapid data growth
- Data usage per user rose by 37.3% YoY to 25.4GB per month vs 18.5GB a year earlier
In meeting rising Malaysian demand for data, Celcom Axiata Bhd said during its Q3 performance for 2021 that it has accelerated investment into its network, resulting in US$195.3 million (RM825 million) capex into 250 new network sites built with 8,000 sites optimised with improved 4G coverage and capacity. The network investments have resulted in increased 4G population coverage especially in Sabah, Pahang, Terengganu, Sarawak, Negeri Sembilan and Kedah, over the past 9 months.
This has allowed Celcom to achieve more than 94% 4G population coverage nationwide with nine states achieving 98% or higher. The nationwide upgrading involved among others, more than 1,800 sites in Sabah and Sarawak which saw an increased 4G population coverage by 6 percentage points and 1.9 percentage points, respectively.
Commenting on Celcom’s Q3 performance, Idham Nawawi (pic), its Chief Executive Officer said, “Celcom’s growth trajectory has been the result of our continuous focus on operational cost management and accelerated network investments, complemented by a strong market performance by our sales team and a competitive product portfolio.”
The network improvements address the rapid increase in data traffic that recorded more than 54.3% YoY growth with 581.9 million Gigabytes (GB) compared to 377.2 million GB in 3Q20. Data usage per month per user increased by 37.3% YoY with 25.4 GB per month per user as compared to 18.5GB per month per user a year earlier. Celcom also doubled overall network capacity to 1.6 Terrabytes per second (Tbps) compared to 810 Gbps in January 2020. Celcom’s network currently caters over 14 million users, including Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) users
Idham claimed that Celcom customers enjoy one of the highest throughputs with its network and that the telco will continue to invest in network and address the rapid data traffic growth while ensuring its network reaches the most remote areas in Sabah and Sarawak.
“We are modernizing our network with the latest network technology, including 8T8R RAN technology, that will significantly improve mobile capacity and user experience. Our network improvements also include the cessation of 3G services which will enable us to allocate more network and spectrum resources to 4G LTE, making our network ready for 5G.”
Q3 data points
In 3Q21, Celcom continued its growth momentum by growing revenue (excluding device) by 1.2% QoQ (+4.6% YTD) and with QoQ net additions of 157,000 subscribers. Prepaid subscriber base saw a +14.4% YoY subscriber growth primarily from affordable prepaid plans with a resilient ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) of RM30. Postpaid segment recorded subscriber growth for five consecutive quarters with a +6.7% YoY increase in customer base and a sustained ARPU of RM82, supported by affordable Celcom MEGA™ Family Plans and Enterprise mobile business segment.
Celcom also saw its EBITDA and PATAMI grow faster than top line from cost management initiatives. Excluding one-off Employee Restructuring Programme impact in YTD20, YTD EBITDA increased by RM240 mil (+7.3%) as a result of better credit management and cost optimisation efforts. YTD PATAMI also increased RM33 million (+6.9%) from accelerated depreciation and lower net finance cost.
“With an encouraging subscriber growth, including user growth from MVNOs, Celcom’s cost-saving initiatives do not affect or burden our customers, but enable us to offer more innovative products and services at affordable prices, especially in the Enterprise market,” Idham added.
Celcom recently acquired two ICT companies namely, Infront Consulting Group (M) Sdn Bhd for Cloud Services and Managed Networks and Bridgenet Solutions Sdn Bhd for cybersecurity solutions, networking solutions and managed services.
“Celcom aims to offer innovative ICT solutions, especially in Cybersecurity to local enterprises, enabling them to safeguard their operating systems and customer data more effectively. This will better equip them to be more digitally sustainable, competitive and efficient as Malaysia pivots to become a leading regional digital economy,” Idham concluded.