Malaysian mobile operator Celcom will expand its 3G coverage to all major municipalities within the next month, chief executive officer Datuk Shazalli Ramly told local press. ‘By the middle of July, all towns and cities nationwide will be able to enjoy our 3G services,’ Shazalli told reporters. Celcom recently launched W-CDMA services in Seremban, Ipoh, Alor Star, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching, and already has coverage of major locations including the Klang Valley, Penang, Melaka, Johor Bahru, Genting Highlands, and Sungai Petani and Kulim in Kedah. Celcom has contracted Nokia to extend its W-CDMA infrastructure and Shazalli revealed that the Finnish vendor is also upgrading its network to HSDPA capability for the planned launch of so-called 3.5G services ‘soon’. HSDPA will be marketed under the ‘Celcom 3GX’ banner and offer data downloads at speeds ‘four or five times faster than 3G’, he added. Under the agreement, Nokia is supplying its HSDPA solution with 3.6Mbps capability, a radio access network and transmission from its radio network portfolio. From its Unified Core Networks portfolio, Nokia is providing its MSC Server mobile softswitch, IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) and Flexi Intelligent Service Node (ISN).
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, Celcom (then known as TM Cellular) received its 3G licence in April 2003 and wasted no time in switching on a trial W-CDMA network in July that year. Whilst it stayed true to its promise of introducing 3G services for handset users in early 2004, its limited launch in January did little more than turn trial users into paying customers. It eventually launched a full commercial UMTS service under the brand name Celcom 3G on 17 May 2005, covering around 25% of the population. In mid-December 2005 it introduced its first pre-paid 3G service. Celcom had 65,000 3G subscribers at the end of March 2006, and says it is on target to reach 150,000 by year end.