Telcos to lose last-mile licenses if services not rolled out


Telcos to lose last-mile licenses if wireless or wired broadband services not rolled out
25 Aug 2006
Marina Emmanuel

GEORGE TOWN, FRI.: Buck up or risk having your licenses revoked. This is Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik’s ultimatum to telecommunications providers of last-mile connectivity in the country which have yet to roll-out wireless or wired broadband services.

The irate Minister of Energy, Water and Telecommunications yesterday said the Government’s move in liberalising last-mile connectivity (for homes and businesses) by awarding licenses to 12 telcos since 2003 had not achieved the desired effect.

"I thought we had the solution… unfortunately, most (companies) viewed the license as a valuable asset and they did what everybody else does with a valuable asset - they locked it up in a safe.

“They probably anticipate capital gains from the license in time to come,” he said when launching the Penang Fiber Optic Network (PenangFON) at a hotel here.

"We are reviewing the performance of all last-mile licenses and will not hesitate to take action (if necessary, withdraw the license) if there is no significant roll-out.

“If you are going to take the license, you better do something about it,” Dr Lim added.

Among the telcos which have been awarded last-mile licenses (inclusive of WiMax and 3G spectrums) are Telekom Malaysia Bhd, Maxis, Celcom, MiTV and NasionCom Sdn Bhd.

“Fortunately for all of us,” Dr Lim noted, "not everyone who got a last-mile license locked it up in a safe.

“We have visionary companies like Optical Communication Engineering Sdn Bhd (OCE), the first and only metro fibre roll-out in Malaysia.”

OCE entered into a joint-venture with Astute Properties Sdn Bhd to form PenangFON, which currently offers broadband and data centre packages in Penang.

Dr Lim said although broadband penetration in Malaysia has increased from a household penetration of 2 per cent in 2004 to 12 per cent now, this was still considered low and inadequate for the country to realise the objectives of Vision 2020.

“We are looking at all wired and wireless avenues to increase penetration, including the establishment of a National Infocom Infrastructure Management Company to own and operate a high-speed fibre optic network throughout the whole country,”

Speaking to reporters later, Dr Lim said his ministry would embark on a consumer awareness campaign on poor quality broadband services.

“Consumers should not be misled by service providers who are pricing their services on not what is being delivered, but based more on their best effort,” he said in reference to broadband services currently offered.

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