Wimax's sweet spot

Joseph Waring
Wireless Asia

Wireless Asia: After your launch a bit over a year ago, how is uptake of Wimax services?

Michael Lai: Our subscriber base passed the 100,000 mark late last year - just 13 months after going commercial in 2008. Malaysia is not a big country, with a population of about 28 million. But if look at subscribers based on population, we're probably one of the fastest growing 3G/4G/Wimax markets in the world today.

Has that uptake met your expectations?

Am I pleased with 100,000? Yes and no. We started from ground zero with no base stations, so from that perspective I think it's a good achievement. But this is just the beginning and a lot more can be done. Broadband for all is our mission. I think one day everyone's got to have personal broadband. It's just a matter of when this can happen in Malaysia. So from that perspective, I think the journey has just begun.

I think we've hit a sweet spot in emerging countries like Malaysia. The country has one of the basic fundamentals you look at before you get into a market and that is relatively low broadband penetration. And that's not just for Malaysia, but for most emerging economies in Asia if not the world.

Household broadband penetration in Malaysia, which is considered one of the more advanced Asian economies, as of Q3 hovered around 25% to 27%. That means more than seven out of ten homes without broadband.

An interesting stat is that the PC to broadband penetration in Malaysia is just 5:1, which is higher compared to a lot of Asian countries.

That shows there's a real opportunity now.

Absolutely. You don't have to wait. Compared with the Asian average, which is about 2:1, PC penetration is definitely running higher than broadband.

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