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Malaysia surges ahead in the APAC National Broadband Network revolution

Malaysia has allocated 2600MHz spectrum to use for 4G services

Analyst house Informa Telecoms & Media has released new figures revealing that the High Speed Broadband (HSBB) network being built by Telekom Malaysia is comfortably outpacing other NBNs being deployed including in the region, including rival Singapore’s NGNBN as well as those being rolled out in Australia and New Zealand.

According to Informa, the HSBB – a 70/30 joint-venture between Telekom Malaysia and the government – had 310,000 subscribers by end-April and had passed over 1.2 million premises in the country – with the network set to be completed both on time and under budget.

The HSBB deployment has gone so well in Malaysia that there is now talk of extending the network beyond its original target of 20 per cent of the total homes in the country and taking it into more areas outside the Klang Valley, with with strong interest from several state governments in having the HSBB extended into their states.

NBN deployment status report (end-March)

The HSBB’s progress is way in front of Singapore’s Next Generation National Broadband Network (NGNBN) which has only around 130,000 subscribers so far and, although deployed to nearly 90 pe cent of buildings in the city-state, is still not available to the majority of households because of delays in completing the in-building wiring.

Meanwhile, network deployments in the Australian and New Zealand markets lag way behind the two regional front-runners with Australia’s highly controversial A$43bn state-owned National Broadband Network having only around 7,000 subscribers while New Zealand’s Ultra Fast Broadband deployment has only around 500 hundred subs at present.

“There is no doubt that Malaysia’s decision to stick with the incumbent, Telekom Malaysia, in deploying its next-generation broadband networks is definitely bearing fruit at the moment,” says Tony Brown, Senior Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media.

“The other NBN markets in the region have deployed more complex NBN models with new and independent entities created to build and operate their NBN networks – and that has taken a lot of time and created some significant teething problems, especially in Australia.”

Nonetheless, Brown says that, although keeping Telekom Malaysia as the key component of the HSBB deployment has facilitated a faster NBN rollout, the government’s decision not to create an independent wholesale network access operator, as is being done in Australia, could be a negative in the longer term.

In addition, Brown says that another problem facing the Malaysian NBN market surrounds content, especially the tight exclusive grip that pay-TV giant Astro has on much of the best TV programming.

“With video set to play such a huge role in the broadband market and with so many operators now launching IPTV services – including both Telekom Malaysia and Maxis – content rights are becoming ever more critical,” says Brown.

“As things stand, an operator like Telekom Malaysia is going to find it hard to really break through as an IPTV player unless it either spends a huge amount of money on content or the government steps in – as the Singaporean regulator did a few years ago – and bans exclusive content deals between programmers and pay-TV operators.

This year’s Broadband-IP&TV Asia event will take place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 15th-16th May. For more information and to register, please visit http://asia.broadbandworldforum.com

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