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NE Asia JUN 2006 Issue
Industry & Market

Kuala Lumpur
NasionCom Rolls Out WiMAX

Local telephony company NasionCom Holdings Bhd will roll out a US$55 million WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) system nationwide this year. The company is partnering with Deutsche Telekom AG for the technology and currently evaluating bids from various telecom infrastructure players to build the high-speed wireless broadband network.

WiMAX is seen as a broadband alternative that can potentially break the last-mile monopoly of telco Telekom Malaysia Bhd and also provide longer-range hotspots as well as cellular and high-speed connectivity for businesses. The non-line-of-sight technology can achieve data rates up to 70Mbps with a range of up to 10km.

NasionCom executive director Peter Tham said that the trials it held in the Klang Valley last year had "exceeded expectations". He expects the take-up rate of broadband connectivity to rise dramatically in Malaysia as soon as the service is launched. Tham added that a wide variety of applications, including wireless surveillance systems and on-demand music and movie downloads will be available to users via WiMAX. NasionCom is looking at commercial deployment of network in the capital city as early as September 2006 and Tham is projecting returns within 24 months. NasionCom anticipates broadband penetration in the country to exceed 2 million users by then.

Tham said the company sees the opportunity of converting the 1.5 million users currently still using dial-up services for Internet connection to broadband.

VoIP Ambitions
NasionCom has also set a target to sign on up to 1 million subscribers for its Nasion1 voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP) mobile phone service by year end. Nasion1 is being touted as the first service of its kind in the world that allows the use of mobile phones to make international calls from as low as US$0.05 per minute. NasionCom pre-sold 20,000 subscriptions for the service and the first consignment of VoIP mobile phones arrived in April.

Nasion1 allows users to switch back and forth from their existing GSM service to their Nasion1 service and will offer long-distance discount rates that could be a threat to local celcos Maxis Communications Bhd, Celcom Bhd and DiGi.Com Bhd.

by Julian Matthews

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(June 2006 Issue, Nikkei Electronics Asia)

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