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MCMC defends spectrum award

12 Dec 2012, The Edge
KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) defended its decision to award the biggest share of the 2.6GHz spectrum to Puncak Semangat Sdn Bhd as a means to increase competition in the telecommunications industry.
“We wanted to introduce additional competition. Look at the market now, if we left those eight players on their own, where would the solutions, applications and innovation be?” chairman Datuk Mohamed Sharil Tarmizi told an analyst and media briefing yesterday.

Last week, MCMC awarded 20MHz each to Celcom Axiata Bhd, DiGi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd, Maxis Broadband Sdn Bhd, Packet One Networks (M) Sdn Bhd, REDtone Marketing Sdn Bhd, U Mobile Sdn Bhd and YTL Communications Sdn Bhd, while Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary’s Puncak Semangat received a bigger allocation  of 40MHz. The 4G or LTE services will enable these telcos to offer speeds in excess of 100Mbps.
Dismissing reports that Puncak Semangat had received the “lion’s share” of the 2.6GHz spectrum, Sharil saidthe bandwidth allocated to the company is much smaller than what the big telco players have in total.

Celcom, DiGi and Maxis, regarded as Tier 1 telcos, have more than 100MHz of spectrum each, taking into account the frequencies awarded earlier.

Sharil said besides intensifying competition in the industry, the 40MHz awarded to Puncak Semangat is the minimum spectrum needed to offer network services.MCMC, Sharil said, had the power to “take back the spectrum” should players fail to meet their targets.
He added that the regulator has been keeping tabs on telco operators and had fined several of them for failure to provide satisfactory service.
It was earlier reported that several WiMAX licensees in the country were fined for failing to cover 25% of the population in the areas given to them as stipulated in their detailed business plans.
Among them were YTL E-SOLUTIONS BHD , Asiaspace Sdn Bhd and REDTONE INTERNATIONAL BHD .
Sharil said under the licensing framework, a network service provider does not need to own its own spectrum or infrastructure if it wants to provide a service. He cited Tune Talk as an example, which has some one million users but does not own any towers or facilities.
According to MCMC, telco operators can no longer compete on just price and speed. There is a need for operators to work together, innovate and provide more services to consumers.
Sharil disagreed with DAP MP Tony Pua’s comment that the regulatory body should have conducted an auction for the 4G-LTE spectrum as is the practice in the UK, Germany, Sweden and Thailand.
“An auction is best when the spectrum is convenient and quality of the spectrum is not a problem. We were ready to go with the auction and had even structured a framework, but we decided not  to go ahead with it,” he said, adding that the highest bidder may not necessarily be the one with the best ideas.
The 2.6GHz spectrum will enable Malaysians to enjoy many new services, such as high definition video streaming, enhanced user experience on real-time applications and better connectivity for mobile and consumer electronic devices.
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