Malaysian telco Maxis Communications, owner of the country’s largest mobile network operator by subscribers, and local WiMAX operator Asiaspace are understood to be in talks regarding a possible collaboration over the rollout of Long Term Evolution (LTE) services, the Star Online reports. It is believed that the duo are considering options including the sharing of infrastructure over which they could jointly offer 4G services, with it thought that possible plans include Maxis taking responsibility for the construction of the infrastructure while for its part Asiaspace would provide a block of LTE-suitable spectrum in order to boost the reach and capacity of the network. The report claims that talks between the two parties actually began several months ago, and that a preliminary agreement has already been reached, although sources also noted that the feasibility of the two firms working together continues to be examined before any final agreement is signed. Further, it has been suggested that there could be a clause in the contract which would give Maxis the first right of refusal should Asiaspace shareholders seek to reduce their stake in the WiMAX provider at any time in the future.
As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Asiaspace was awarded a licence at 2300MHz-2330MHz in March 2007 covering Peninsula Malaysia, and while the spectrum is meant for the deployment of WiMAX services it can also be used for LTE deployment. In October 2010 meanwhile the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) announced that it had assigned frequencies in the 2600MHz band to nine operators, including both Maxis and Asiaspace, for an undisclosed amount. Under the terms of the spectrum award, all nine companies are required to roll out 4G wireless broadband services, likely using LTE technology, while they were also required to make submissions to the state by 14 January 2011 detailing a five-year business plan to achieve 50% coverage. The allocation of frequencies will only become available on 1 January 2013. However, with each operator handed a 20MHz block in the 2600MHz band it has been claimed that allocation will be too little for individual operators to offer 4G services, prompting speculation that network sharing could remedy such an issue.