Malaysia’s Maxis Mobile today launched commercial 3G services across the country, hoping to sign up a large chunk of its 600,000 or so heavy data users within the first few months. As well as 3G-enabled handsets, it is also launching a range of value-added services, including video-based content channels through a partnership with sister company Astro, and an innovative home surveillance link-up. The launch follows Maxis’ introduction of 3G data cards for laptop users in April. Maxis says it intends to keep its consumer prices ‘equal to or less than’ close rival Celcom to attract subscribers.
Telekom Malaysia subsidiary Celcom was the first in the country to launch a full commercial 3G service on 17 May and has reported an ‘encouraging response’ from users, although it hasn’t released any official take-up figures. Both cellcos were awarded UMTS concessions in July 2003, and remain the country’s only 3G licence holders, but the state is considering awarding two further blocks of 3G spectrum in the near future in an effort to increase competition. Malaysia’s smallest cellco DiGi Telecommunications did not bid in the first UMTS auction, declaring that its EDGE-based services were sufficient to meet the current demand for data applications from its subscriber base. It has, however, admitted that the lack of a 3G licence would handicap it in the long-term, and in June said that it had written to the regulator declaring its interest in one of the two remaining available 3G spectrum blocks. It also revealed that it had approached Maxis and Celcom to discuss sharing or reselling the W-CDMA band but had not made much progress with negotiations.