FIBRE-to-home is an interesting proposal that Tan Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim is talking about. That will put Axiata in head-on competition with other players including incumbent Telekom Malaysia Bhd .
Will that be a suitable thing to do given its background of mobile telecommunications?
Axiata has no choice but to get into the fibre game because it needs to provide the mix of mobile-wireless-fixed proposition. Axiata cannot remain a cellular player forever given the dynamics of the market place.
The margins for the cellular business are falling and demand for fibre is so huge that it needs to be able to offer more than just mobility solutions to sustain its earnings in the future.
To Jamaludin, the pockets of opportunities are huge in the eleven countries that Axiata is in. It has stakes in cellular-broadband companies in Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal, Pakistan, India and Singapore.
“We may be late in Malaysia but not in Indonesia and others. In some countries it is not economical to lay fibre and there we have wireless options. More so, our towers are 100m away and with that we can blast fibre into homes (quite easily). Many of our towers already have fibre, so we are in a position to provide fibre to the home,’’ he adds.
The future Axiata is about providing a mix of fibre-wireless-mobile solutions and eventually with 5G, they can push broadband beyond boundaries to homes and corporates/enterprises.
If today it is not able to offer fixed fibre to users who prefer 40-50 channels to view, it will be able to do so when it has fibre.
But can Axiata compete in Malaysia, where TM and other players like Maxis Bhd , Digi.Com Bhd are far ahead?
“In some places we cannot compete as other players are entrenched, but we can roll out in other places such as in Sabah and Sarawak and rural areas and our strategy is two-fold… collaborate and become their re-seller rather than compete. We plan to work with them as partners,’’ Jamaludin says.