Digi now claims the ‘widest 4G LTE network’ in Malaysia
By Goh Thean Eu October 13, 2015
- Population coverage hits 50%, initial year-end target was 45%
- Plans to add another 1,500 4G LTE sites by year-end
ONCE seen as the underdog in the Fourth Generation/ Long-Term Evolution (4G LTE) war, Digi.Com Bhd is now claiming the widest 4G LTE network in Malaysia with its 50% population coverage.
Having the widest 4G LTE network in the country puts Malaysia’s third largest mobile operator one step closer to achieving its long-term goal of becoming the best mobile Internet provider for the mass market within the next three years.
It also achieved its 4G LTE target a few months ahead of schedule, having initially aimed to hit 45% population coverage by the end of this year.
The latest data on its rivals’ 4G LTE coverage is unavailable, but it was reported in July that Maxis Bhd’s 4G LTE network had hit 41% population coverage and that it plans to hit over 50% by year-end.
Digi.Com will not be resting on its laurels however, and plans to continue expanding its 4G LTE footprint, chief executive officer Albern Murty told a media briefing at its headquarters in Shah Alam on Oct 12.
“Between now and year-end, we will be rolling out an additional 1,500 4G LTE sites,” he declared.
He said the aggressive rollout will be within its planned RM900 million in capital expenditure (capex) for the year. [RM1 = US$0.24 at current rates]
Why being ‘widest’ matters
According to Albern (pic), it is vital for Digi.Com to embark on this ‘widest 4G LTE coverage’ journey.
“When you ask people on the street what’s the first thing that comes to their mind when they hear about Digi, chances are the answers you will get are ‘Yellow Man’ and the song I will follow you,” he said, referring to the company’s wildly popular advertising and marketing campaigns of yesteryear.
“Rarely will you get ‘widest coverage’ as an answer.
“So that’s why it is important to embark on this campaign. We need to tell everyone that we are as good as, if not better than, everyone else,” he added.
Over the past three years, Digi has spent RM2.3 billion in capex, mainly on its network. The company, which was one of the last incumbent mobile operators to launch 3G services, has caught up with its rivals. Its 3G services are now available to 87% of the population.
Meanwhile, its 4G LTE services today cover 28 major cities and secondary towns nationwide, representing about 80% population coverage in these key areas.
“In the Klang Valley, our 4G LTE coverage is about 85% or more,” said chief network officer Kesavan Sivabalan.
Meanwhile, Albern was keen to stress the importance of the ‘population coverage’ metric.
A look at some of its rivals shows that their 4G LTE game plan seems focused more on speed. Celcom’s 4G LTE marketing campaign, for example, uses the tagline ‘The Fastest Territory is Here!’, while Maxis plays the ‘The Fastest Data Network Just Got Faster’ card.
“While speed is important, what we want is to focus on delivering a good experience to our customers – that’s why we aim for our 4G LTE customers to be able to get a speed of 5Mbps at least 80% of the time,” said Albern.
Competition between Malaysia’s top mobile operators has certainly got more intense, especially over the past several months. All have been lowering the cost of their services with new prepaid and postpaid plans.
Industry observers Digital News Asia (DNA) spoke to said it would be interesting to see what Maxis chief executive officer Morten Lundal’s next move will be, as his company has also been claiming to be offering the “widest 4G LTE network” (pic above).
“These players are competing on all fronts – prepaid packages, postpaid packages, data plans and others – so don’t be surprised to see Maxis coming up with a new campaign to claim back the ‘widest 4G LTE’ title,” said a telecommunications analyst who declined to be named.
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