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WiMAX phones on the verge of hitting the marketplace, as 3G rollout slows

16 Feb 2005

According to Malaysia’s regulatory authority, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), competition in the country’s next-generation mobile services market is to intensify this year, with several operators and equipment manufacturers already trialling handsets that use mobile WiMAX and other new wireless technologies, with possible commercial launches apparently less than a year away.

The MCMC says it welcomes any increased competition in the sector and is offering assistance to the unnamed companies in their plans to introduce new services and products such as Wi-Fi and WiMAX-enabled phones and additional equipment based on the ‘orthogonal frequency division multiplexing’ (OFDM) technology standard. The regulator added that it wants to see the availability of new mobile-based broadband data services and VoIP, previously only available as ‘fixed wireless’ applications, as soon as possible, and says it is focused on harnessing trends such as the convergence of wireless and wireline technologies.

Meanwhile, the rollout of 3G mobile services in Malaysia has slowed considerably, with the national coverage of the two UMTS licence holders, Telekom Malaysia and Maxis Communications, still very patchy. In the opinion of the MCMC, both cellcos’ timelines have been badly affected by a ‘lack of market readiness’ for 3G services as well as a shortage of handset availability, although the operators have both said they will launch nationwide commercial UMTS networks in 2005, after a series of delays. The country awarded the two concessions in July 2002 but it was another twelve months before Telekom Malaysia introduced a pilot 3G network service, following it up with limited commercial services in January 2004. Maxis launched a trial 3G network in business districts of Kuala Lumpur in March 2004.

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