Opinion

What I think about webe 4G LTE [Opinion]

webe (pronounced “We”-“Be”) was “launched” on 30 June 2016 with a single postpaid plan targeted to existing “loyal” TM (Unifi, Streamyx) and P1 broadband customers. User could only subscribe if they get the invite from webe.

p1-webe

Despite the “launch”, there were no announcement on the webe and P1 website (not at the time of writing this) and there were no media launch event. Even the TM website does not promote webe despite it being a TM company. webe announced the launch of its mobile service on its Facebook page shortly after Yes4G LTE was launched in the morning.

The plan, cost from as low as RM79/month (for the principle line) comes with unlimited data, unlimited voice calls and unlimited SMS. To qualify for RM79/month, the user has to be an active TM/P1 customer, and use a webe “certified” 4G LTE smartphone. The company aims to offer a “digital” customer service and all sign ups are done online even at the service centre.

To use webe for tethering or share your Internet connection for surfing on PC/Desktop/Laptop, the Telco chargers RM6 for every 2 hours.

When it comes to coverage, unofficially, webe has an estimated 4G LTE coverage of 70% (human population) in the Klang Valley and about 90% coverage in Kuala Lumpur. The company is working on improving coverage in the Klang Valley and Johor Bahru.

What I think about webe 4G LTE?

A lot of people think that webe is still a P1 company, run by the same old “P1 people”. This is not true, more than half of the management have been replaced, most of them are Telekom Malaysia employees or recruited from another Telco.

webe promises “Unlimited usage” but it doesn’t talk about speed.

webe doesn’t encourage you to share your Internet connection on your PC and Laptop because this would require faster Internet speeds and it would congest the mobile network.

webe’s 4G LTE network currently runs on the 850Mhz band, with about 5Mhz spectrum. If there’s only a few user in the network, you could experience speed up to 15Mbps-20Mbps. But what if there are 100,000 users in the network? Even a stable 1Mbps speed would be difficult.

The fact is, right now, webe 850Mhz network is not designed for high speed Internet users, and it cannot cater a huge number of Internet subscribers.

This could be the main reason why webe is open to invited users only.

In my opinion, a 1-3Mbps Internet speed is more than enough for the average mobile users out there and I am talking about using Internet on smartphone, not laptop, not tethering. These type of uses are called ‘small screen’ users.

Those using Internet as mobile hotspot, sharing Internet on their PC, these a ‘big screen’ users who requires high speed Internet. webe will be targeting these users once they launch their 2.6Ghz 4G LTE network. This network could cater for more subscribers and faster Internet speeds (up to 75Mbps or more). It is likely, webe will open up its network to all users once its 2.6Ghz 4G LTE network goes live.

The company will also be shutting down its 2.3Ghz WiMAX network in phases and replace it with a 2.3Ghz 4G LTE network. However, this new network will have limited device support but it shouldn’t stop webe from offering a fixed-high speed home broadband service together with the 2.6Ghz network.

webe’s key focus right now is the customers of Telekom Malaysia and P1 Broadband. Combined, this is about 2.5 million homes but webe is targeting every single people in that home. This means, webe could be looking at about 10 million potential customers. This is close to the number of subscribers that Maxis, Celcom and Digi each has.

If you look at webe’s plan, the Telco is giving discounts to 2nd, 3rd and 4th line where the 4th line cost as low as RM49/month and still comes with unlimited usage. This could be a good family plan if you can afford to pay a total of RM256/month (excluding GST) for 4 lines. This is on top of that P1 Broadband subscription or that expensive Streamyx/Unifi monthly bill.

Its too early to tell if webe will be successful. In April, webe’s CEO said users should not trust the Telcos but I think webe might not be any far different. webe doesn’t want to talk about speed or coverage, it wants to give users a good experience. In my book, a good mobile/Internet experience means a really good coverage especially indoor, fast Internet, no Youtube or Facebook buffering and great customer service. Most importantly, all these can’t happen without the right investment, so the question is, will webe spend RM10 billion or more over the next 5-years to build the best mobile network in Malaysia? Or will it depend on Celcom’s network to deliver the right experience? This is yet to be seen.

The positive thing I see about webe right now is it being a TM company. I am not a big fan of TM but the reality is, TM has the money and it is the biggest fixed-Internet service provider in the country, everything that webe needs. The best part is this, some of those TM employees in webe wants to do things differently because they weren’t able to do it right within TM. This is a good thing because we need more innovation and creativeness in the industry plus webe needs to stand out right now as it competes with Maxis, Celcom, Digi, U Mobile, Yes4G and the MVNOs.

Perhaps in the next 6-months to 1 year, we’ll know if webe is here to stay and if it could make a difference.

Disclaimer: This is an opinion. Internet Everywhere is not responsible for any misleading information above.

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