Malaysia can expect commercially available LTE (Long-Term Evolution) network services to arrive at the end of 2013 or early-2014, said an analyst. “When we talk about a commercial LTE network in Malaysia, we’re looking at probably sometime end of 2013, or early 2014,” said Amresh Kacker of Analysys Mason.
“But the definition of [being commercially available] is not having a few base-stations supporting a few mobile dongles, but a full-fledged ecosystem with a lot of handsets and devices,” Kacker clarified.
LTE, simply put, is the next step in mobile network technology that emphasizes more on data transfer than voice, unlike 2G or even 3G technology. LTE technologies — which include TD-LTE (Time-division LTE) and FD-LTE (Frequency-division LTE) — are geared to deliver data speeds of 100 Mb/s, and an uplink of at least 50 Mb/s.
Kacker was speaking at a media retreat organised by Packet One Networks Sdn Bhd, a Malaysian Internet service provider that utilizes WiMAX technology. During the retreat, the company demonstrated its readiness to upgrade its ZTE-equipped base-stations from WiMAX to TD-LTE through applying software upgrade alone.
Analysys Mason based its projections of LTE arriving in Malaysia on several factors, including the success of its commercial trials in China and India, and how quickly the Malaysian government would allow operators to use the 2.6GHz spectrum for LTE.
“The main driver for the technologies are China and India; without these two countries deploying them significantly, Malaysia is unlikely to take the lead because it’s not a big enough market,” he said.
The progress of LTE trials in China and India have so far been positive, said Kacker, adding that LTE’s progress is unlikely to slip up because of the commercial push that China Mobile and Reliance India are putting into the new technology.
In China, large-scale trials are being carried out in Shanghai, Chongquing, Guangzhou, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Shenzhen. In India, Reliance tested LTE technology at its Navi Mumbai Centre during December 2010 and claimed to have reached peak downlink rates of 80 Mb/s, with uplink rates of 20 Mb/s.
Big on mobile
The evolutionary move towards TD-LTE is key for the future success of Packet One, especially given Kacker’s dour outlook for WiMAX. “Personally I don’t see more opportunity for WiMAX-embedded devices because there’s not a very large ecosystem,” he said. “If our predictions are right in saying that TD-LTE is commercially available in two to three years, I can see no commercial rational in deploying new WiMAX 2 equipment.”
Packet One’s CEO Michael Lai said that it is moving fast to secure this space, and has submitted a detailed business plan to the MCMC (Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission) to use the the 2.6GHz spectrum for LTE.
“The foundation blocks are already in place; the MCMC is quite advanced in this matter, so it’s a matter of days and months, not years, before LTE is allowed to operate in Malaysia,” Kracker said.
The market for mobile broadband is one of the fastest growing segments in the country. In comparing Malaysia’s annual fixed and mobile market size in 2009 and 2010, Analysys Mason found that the mobile broadband dongle segment doubled year-on-year from RM700 million to RM1.4 billion, while the mobile Internet (handset) segment grew 24% y-o-y from RM1.5 billion to RM1.8 billion (see chart 1).
While the mobile voice segment still takeses 76% of the total market, its growth has stagnated. The total market size for 2009 was RM24.5 billion, and grew to RM26 billion in 2010.
“Without a doubt, growth is on the mobile wireless broadband space,” said Lai.
The share of mobile broadband subscribers in Malaysia has been steadily increasing over the past couple of years. In its study of the local broadband market, the analysts found that mobile broadband subscribers made up 33% of subscribers in 3Q09, but had increased to 50% in 4Q10 (see chart 2).
Link to full article