U Mobile to relook capex plan, gets into the video game

  • No changes to overall capex allocation, but timing may change
  • New service allows customers to stream unlimited video content for free

U Mobile to relook capex plan, gets into the video gameMALAYSIA'S fourth largest mobile operator U Mobile Sdn Bhd is looking at accelerating its network expansion this year, hoping to take advantage of the additional spectrum it is about to be granted.
 
“In terms of capital expenditure (capex), there won’t be much change to the overall broad numbers,” said chief executive officer Wong Heang Tuck (pic).
 
“But in terms of timing, we may accelerate some of it upfront. We are still looking at it,” he told Digital News Asia (DNA) after the launch of U Mobile’s Video-Onz service (see below) in Kuala Lumpur on April 28.
 
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Last October, U Mobile said it was planning a capex of RM3.5 billion to RM4 billion over the next five years to expand its network coverage, or an average of RM700-800 million a year. [RM1 = US$0.26 at current rates]
 
This was before the Malaysian Government announced that a significant portion of the 900MHz and 1800MHz spectra would be allocated to U Mobile.
 
The 1800MHz spectrum will be allocated to the telco in January 2017, while the 900MHz spectrum will be allocated next July.
 
Although there is more than seven months to go before the spectrum is accolated, telcos need to start planning their networks now.
 
According to an industry source who requested anonymity, the reallocation of the spectrum will certainly have an impact on U Mobile’s network strategy.
 
“The reallocation would allow U Mobile to offer its services in multi-band. This means, capacity per site is now higher.
 
“However, the equipment to support multi-band also costs more,” the source said.
 
With multi-band, one tower or site can cover more users, and this could also mean that the telco would need fewer towers or sites to cover a particular area.
 
“At the end of the day, the most valuable asset a mobile operator has is its spectrum,” the source said. “It puts the company in a better position to operate more efficiently.”
 
Launch of Video-Onz
 
Meanwhile, the company launched its new Video-Onz service, which provides unlimited free video streaming 24 hours a day.
 
There are a few conditions of course – the first is that ‘free, unlimited video streaming’ service is applicable only to U Mobile’s Hero P70, i90 and i130 plans.
 
Subscribers to its other postpaid or prepaid plans get free 100% extra data for Video-Onz, which means if these customers are getting 3GB of data from their existing plan, they will get an additional 3GB free for Video-Onz specifically.
 
Also, Video-Onz is available to customers who streaming from YouTube, HyppTV Everywhere, Viu, iflix, Youku Tudou, Astro On The Go, tonton, Eros Now, Herotalkies, ONFM and Pocketimes.
 
The free unlimited streaming is applicable to standard-definition video content. High-definition video data would take up users’ existing data quota.
 
“We are a data-centric telco, one that is always looking at ways to provide best value and best data experience to our customers,” said U Mobile said chief marketing officer Jasmine Lee.
 
“After months of planning and working with our valued partners, we are delighted to present Video-Onz to our customers.
 
“No customer will be able to resist the lure of streaming now that they can stream all their favourite content for free without using up their data,” she said at the launch.
 
Related Stories:
 
U Mobile plans 4G-heavy US$1bil capex over next 5yrs
 
Malaysian telcos in the dark as govt reallocates spectrum
 
 
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