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Telenor's DiGi aims to be top 4G LTE provider in Malaysia

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Fast-growing telecom enjoys nearly 30% of the market

DiGi Telecommunications aims to be Malaysia’s leading provider of fourth-generation LTE (long-term evolution) wireless service.
DiGi, which is majority-owned by Telenor, is a fast-growing mobile company in Malaysia, currently commanding nearly 30 per cent of the market. It operates on three spectrum bands: 1,800, 2,100 and 2,600 megahertz. Its three main services are prepaid and post-paid cellular and mobile broadband. 
DiGi acquired a 3G licence four or five years ago. Its 3G network coverage is 86 per cent, while its LTE coverage is around 35 per cent. 
The Malaysian government’s target is mobile Internet penetration of 75 per cent by the end of this year and to increase that to 95 per cent by the end of 2020. 
Albern Murty, DiGi’s chief executive officer, said that to be successful with 4G LTE it was necessary to roll it out in key markets and then continue to invest in the network.
He said devices were also a key factor affecting mobile Internet penetration. Devices need to be affordable for the mass consumer. DiGi’s strategy is to provide devices with either prepaid or post-paid service packages.
DiGi used to offer its own house-brand handsets but now concentrates on its strengths and “leaves the rest to partners”, Murty said.
About 60 per cent of DiGi’s customers use smartphones, mostly 3G phones. The number of LTE phones is still small but it is increasing. 
DiGi had 11.4 million mobile subscribers as of the end of 2014. There were 9.7 million prepaid and more than 1.7 million post-paid subscribers. DiGi has about 6.4 million Internet subscribers and 49.3 per cent of its subscribers are smartphone users.
DiGi says that over the last four quarters, it has grown its 4G LTE footprint, focusing on areas with strong demand for the service, supported by device availability. 
Tore Johnsen, senior vice president for performance management, Asia Region, of Telenor Group said “Internet for All” was not just a slogan but was the company’s long-term plan to continue investing heavily in its networks. It aims to deliver Internet for all in each country it operates in, including Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Myanmar. 
Ability to access the Internet is important in every country in Asia. Telenor Group is committed to building a digital future for all the people of Asia, he said.
“We believe that mobile Internet is a catalyst for growth and that it should be accessible to everyone.” 
He recommends that regulators adopt a neutral-spectrum policy, which means that the same spectrum can be used for any service including 2G, 3G and 4G. This would help the country optimise the benefits of limited frequencies and spectra. 
Telenor, a Norwegian multinational, is doing well in Asia. As of the fourth quarter of 2014, around 47 per cent of the group’s revenue came from Asia. Of its six Asian operations, three are publicly listed. 
Under the Internet for All initiative, DiGi recently pledged to be part of the United Nations’ Integrated Sustainable Agriculture Programme in Malaysia. The programme enrols farming communities and agri-businesses in the Blue Numbers initiative, a global online farmers’ registry. It works to give registered Blue Number farmers better access to sustainable suppliers in their efforts to improve on their practices, to use new finance technology and take advantage of skill-building resources.
With three other partners, DiGi will work to assist these Blue Number holders to boost their efficiencies and socio-economic status. As the connectivity partner, DiGi will provide them with special phone bundles that will get them online, allowing them to interact with their peers and potential buyers around the world.

Published : September 08, 2015

By : Asina Pornwasin The Nation K