Opinion

MCMC gave 800Mhz to YTL Yes4G for Commercial Services? [Comment]

ytl yes4g-store

YTL, the company that operates Yes4G, a mobile Telco in Malaysia, has access to the 800Mhz frequency band for about 2 years now but the MCMC doesn’t want to comment on this or reveal why/how it got access the frequency.

A few “facts” claimed by Yes4G:

  • It claims to “led the way in driving down broadband prices to affordable levels firstly through its WiMAX (IEEE 802.11e)service and subsequently, through its LTE and VoLTE services.”
  • “to-date invested in excess of RM4 billion in infrastructure costs” since 2007. In comparison, Maxis and Celcom have invested over RM10 billion each since 2007, with Digi approximately RM8-9 billion to date.
  • “It should be noted that YTLC being the first mobile operator to offer a 4G service….” in Malaysia…..using WiMAX technology which has now been shut down. In reality, Maxis was first to launch LTE service in Malaysia on 1st January 2013, a technology that is widely branded and accepted as 4G, worldwide (adopted by Yes4G in 2016).

In its Interim Financial Report as of 30 June 2018 (download here, page 18), YTL said “The rollout of the new 800MHz spectrum will further enhance network coverage and reach and customers will be able to enjoy better connectivity. This coupled with availability of devices for this spectrum will facilitate the marketing of more competitive and affordable products and services to customers,”

According to the Yes4G Wikipedia page, the Telco has a 5x10Mhz “trial” spectrum in the 800Mhz frequency band. A trial spectrum here would mean that MCMC had given approval to Yes4G to trial its mobile services in the 800Mhz frequency band, for a short period of time and high likely not for commercial purpose (public); just like how the current 5G networks are being trialed internally by the Telcos, with no public access.

However, in Yes4G’s case, it has deployed a wide network coverage, for commercial reasons, using the “trial” spectrum in the 800Mhz frequency band (Band 20). Screenshot of the Yes4G 800Mhz live network below taken in two areas surrounding Setapak-Wangsa Maju, KL.

By right, Yes4G only has 30Mhz in the 2.3Ghz band and 20Mhz in the 2.6Ghz band, that’s a total 50Mhz awarded directly to YTL by the Malaysia Government. But via a spectrum sharing arrangement signed with AsiaSpace, YTL managed to gain another 30Mhz in the 2.3Ghz band as AsiaSpace decided to shut down its WiMAX services. In total, including the 10Mhz in the 800Mhz band, YTL has got access to as much as 90Mhz of spectrum in Malaysia!

Note: In summary, more spectrum means more bandwidth and faster Internet speeds.

yes-4g-frequency-band-malaysia-wikipedia
Taken from Wikipedia

 

Some questions:

  • How did Yes4G gained access to as much as 90Mhz spectrum, approved by MCMC? That’s more than what Telekom Malaysia (TM) has and very close to the 95Mhz spectrum awarded to U Mobile. For comparison, Yes4G may only have around 1 million customers (estimated) but U Mobile is struggling to deliver a good Internet experience to around 7x more customers with limited spectrum.
  • If the 2x5Mhz in 800Mhz awarded to Yes4G are for trial purposes, why did MCMC allow Yes4G to use it for commercial services? Once the trial expires, the Yes4G 800Mhz network will have to be shut down, wouldn’t this affect coverage for existing Yes4G customers? Unless YTL is confident it will be trialing the 800Mhz band for 20 years?
  • What is the purpose/duration of this “trial” frequency given to YTL?

Another matter that concerns me is the missing 10Mhz in the MCMC Public Inquiry report. There’s a 90Mhz spectrum in the 700Mhz frequency band, but MCMC only mentioned 80Mhz (4x40Mhz) spectrum in its Public Inquiry of Spectrum Allocation document. Where did 10Mhz go in 700Mhz?

According to experts I spoke to, apparently, the 2x5Mhz (10Mhz) spectrum in 700Mhz band appears to overlap with the 800Mhz frequency band (798~803, 839~844) given to YTL for long term “trial”.

I wasn’t able to get more information on these as the Commission, which is supposedly the regulator of Communication in this country, declined to communicate and respond to my questions.

Best of luck Malaysians.

This is a commentary.

Its been over a year with the new Government in power but scamboy is tired of waiting for positive changes in MCMC. He is concerned about the commission’s lack of transparency and not public/consumer friendly.

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