Category Archives: Celcom

6 Malaysian telcos set to sign 5G deal on August 31

Malaysian Communications and multimedia minister Annuar Musa said discussions on taking stakes in Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB) are progressing well and are set to meet the deadline, with the six telcos signing the deals on Aug 31.

He said the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) would be chairing a meeting on Aug 29 to decide on a few terms.

He also had a meeting with finance minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz yesterday on the restructuring exercise to pave the way for all six telcos to take up the 70% stake in DNB.

“I had the discussion with the finance minister as he was responsible for DNB before it was transferred to my ministry,” he added.

Earlier, Celcom Axiata Bhd CEO Isham Nawawi said the telco had consolidated more than 1,000 sites under its 5G initiative.

It has 39 partners to support its 5G rollout, of which 24 are local companies.

On another matter, Annuar said the Cabinet yesterday agreed that the existing Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (Act 588) and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission Act 1998 (Act 589) be amended to provide stronger legal provisions to face cybersecurity threats.

“Hopefully, in the next Parliament sitting, we can table the amendments for both acts.”

Annuar said the amendments are crucial as the country’s telecommunication ecosystem is facing threats of online fraud and hacking by irresponsible individuals.

Malaysian minister wants to issue licences to new players if telcos refuse to sign up for DNB’s 5G access

With 9 days remaining until the 30th June 2022 deadline, Communications and Multimedia Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa (Pic) said he will issue new licences to new players if the number of companies participating in the 5G rollout is not enough. The government has issued an ultimatum to the big four telcos such as Celcom, Digi, Maxis and U Mobile to take up Digital Nasional Berhad’s (DNB) 5G wholesale offer or risk being left behind. 

As reported by Bernama during the 2021 K-KOMM Excellence Service Awards (APC) ceremony held yesterday, Annuar said negotiations on a service agreement between the telcos and DNB for the implementation of the country’s 5G Network were still ongoing. He said, “I have high confidence that all telco companies do not want to be left behind in providing 5G, which is why we take the policy of inviting everyone to come on board, but we cannot force them to join.

“Any company that participates to roll out 5G, we will continue. If the number of companies is not enough, I will issue licences to new players. I’m not going to wait for anybody. I did say, please think about the importance of the national interest.”

The Minister added, “We want to roll out 5G according to plan and the government has given space for existing players to come on board. Hence, we have set a deadline that we feel is more than enough. Let them complete the negotiation.”

At the moment, only YTL Communications and Telekom Malaysia have apparently agreed to sign up and take an equity stake with DNB’s 5G wholesale access offer but YTL’s Yes 5G remains the first and only telco to provide commercial 5G services in Malaysia. DNB’s 5G network currently covers select areas of Kuala Lumpur, Cyberjaya and Putrajaya, and they are expanding into more states including Johor and Penang. 

The big four telcos have been reluctant to sign up with DNB highlighting concerns that the current reference access offer (RAO) does not enable affordable and quality 5G services to consumers. Some of the pressing issues include wholesale pricing that’s locked to a 10-year period and the overall cost to “rent” from DNB is higher than building their own 5G network. It was also reported that the government will consider opening equity stakes for DNB to private equity both private and foreign if the big four telcos are not interested in taking up the offer.

The suggestion to increase the number of telcos doesn’t seem to address the current 5G stalemate as the big four telcos currently command over 90% of total mobile subscriptions and collectively offer 95.5% 4G population coverage throughout the country. Malaysia already has a vibrant and competitive mobile landscape with a total of 9 companies being allocated spectrum to run mobile services. This includes Celcom, Digi, Maxis, U Mobile Asiaspace, Altel, Redtone, YTL Communications and TM. On top of that, there are dozens more mobile network virtual operators (MVNO) that tap on existing networks to offer retail mobile services. 

If there’s a new player in town, it will be tough to sway consumers from the big four telcos if they don’t provide coverage improvements. Even with YTL and TM having access to 4G spectrum and 5G via DNB, they are still considered small players in the field as their mobile coverage especially for indoors and rural areas is limited compared to Celcom, Digi, Maxis and U Mobile. Since the government has announced the single wholesale network approach, there’s no opportunity for new players to compete in network coverage and they would have to rely on DNB’s network which will take years for it to achieve a substantial 5G footprint nationwide.

Celcom introduces metaverse with augmented reality services, games

Celcom Axiata Bhd in partnership with Nonvoice launches its first augmented reality (AR) content, Nonvoice Metaverse, enabling customers to immerse themselves with the latest digital experience and lifestyle.

The partnership provides Celcom customers with 10 aggregated and integrated consumer apps, delivering digital experiences covering AR games, education, digital collectibles/non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and sports, all in one portal. Celcom customers can exclusively have access to not one, but all of these exclusive AR services via the Celcom Life App at only RM3 per week.   

Nonvoice is the world’s first 5G app agency with partnerships that include mobile network operators, device and hardware vendors, and various industry-leading brands. Nonvoice also operates with a global network of expert agents who are deeply entrenched in their markets and fields, and a network of investors who can help app developers with access to funds to back their great ideas.

As Malaysia accelerates the adoption of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technology and with the upcoming 5G rollout, Celcom and Nonvoice will continue to add fresher and more thrilling content every month, ensuring greater value and better digital consumer satisfaction.

Starting today, a total of 10 AR services is available for Celcom customers to enjoy, ranging from:

  • SCOAAR – A multiplayer AR air hockey game that enables 2 simultaneous players to freely interact with AR by physically moving, blending the real and the virtual.
  • Bookful – Let your child paint a dinosaur and look at it come to live in your home. It also holds the world’s largest 3D/AR library with hundreds of book titles from leading publishers and brands. The interactive experience provides children engagement beyond the pages of the book and extends their understanding of the content.
  • GFT Exchange – Celcom users who subscribe to the plan will be given one (1) NFT on a weekly basis. NFTs have become increasingly popular and are regarded as collectibles that can be traded off at the NFT marketplace.
  • LearnX – Improves children’s vocabulary with AR.
  • InvadARsX – It is an AR spaceship defender game that allows you to step right into the action and feel as if you are part of the game, but physically you are still within the comfort of your home.
  • BREAKAAR – Bring this game into the real world. Play, control the paddle and don’t let the ball fall
  • Leo AR – Nurture children’s imagination and creativity through AR by recording videos and sharing them with family and friends all over the world.
  • World League Live Soccer – A social and immersive fan engagement platform that connects social media fans worldwide with the soccer clubs and stars they admire. This app focuses on the mobile-first generation.
  • AwakeningX – Players enter a mysterious world of fantasy to control a dragon by physically moving in the real world, collect points to make their dragon stronger and lead it to a fierce battle against an enemy dragon to protect a sacred altar.
  • Reality Clash – Join an action-packed AR shooting game in a virtual battlefield whereby players’ movements, reactions and strategies are crucial to their success.

T. Kugan (pic), Chief Emerging Business Officer of Celcom said they are excited to partner with Nonvoice and offer Malaysians a fresh slate of innovative and exhilarating digital services and experiences.

“The metaverse is seen as game-changing virtual space that is poised to transform the way we play, learn and socialise. We are enthusiastic about the potential of the AR experience through this partnership and how it will influence various fields such as education, entertainment and commerce. We are confident that Celcom’s latest initiative will empower Malaysians with digital knowledge and skillsets to help them discover the vast potential of AR within the metaverse. This partnership complements our commitment to promote innovation and technological advancements for exceptional consumer experiences,” he added.

Simon Buckingham, Chief Executive Officer of Nonvoice said the agency is excited to see how consumers will be delighted by the new Augmented Reality services and games that they can play in their phones.

Axiata expects Celcom-DiGi merger to be done in 2H22

THE proposed merger between Celcom Axiata Bhd and DiGi.com Bhd to form a new entity known as MergeCo is expected to be completed in the second half of 2022 (2H22), said Axiata Group Bhd.

In a stock exchange filing to Bursa Malaysia yesterday, Axiata said the completion of the transaction will be subject to the approval of the shareholders of both the company and DiGi, as well as regulatory approvals and other terms and conditions.

Axiata and Telenor Group had previously announced on April 8, 2021, that they were in advanced discussions to undertake a merger of the telco operations of Celcom and DiGi.

On Nov 24, 2021, Axiata also announced that MergeCo had initiated engagement with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission for the merger assessment process in relation to the proposed merger.

“Our board also announced that Axiata has been informed by DiGi that an application to the Securities Commission of Malaysia to seek its approval for the proposed merger has been submitted by Digi on Jan 28, 2022,” it said.

Delay in Celcom-Digi merger not good for industry, analysts say

THE Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission’s (MCMC) statement of issues (SOIs) against Celcom Axiata Bhd and DiGi.Com Bhd could negatively impact the sector as merger and acquisition (M&A) will be significant to attain stronger growth in the telecommunications industry. 

Rakuten Trade Research VP (equity research) Thong Pak Leng said the absence of meaningful M&A activities in the market will only further depress the telecommunications sector. 

“M&A is imminent in the telco sector due to stiff competition. We have not seen any significant growth in the sector for many years. 

“We believe the industry consolidation will make our telecommunication companies more competitive with better efficiencies and reducing costs,” he said.

He added that this is also in line with the rollout and adoption of the 5G network in the country which is expected to play a major role in the country’s telecommunications industry moving forward. 

An analyst with a local brokerage firm does not foresee a major red flag for the proposed merger of the telecommunications operations of Celcom and Digi at this juncture. 

He added that, however, if the proposed merger is called off due to any circumstances, then it will definitely not be good for the overall industry. 

“We do believe the merged entity will be able to streamline and offer complementary and more competitive services in both the retail and wholesale markets. 

“This may partially help address some of the concerns on revenue growth,” the analyst, speaking on condition of anonymity, told 5GTalkAsia.

In a note yesterday, RHB Investment Bank Bhd analyst Jeffrey Tan stated the SOIs could potentially delay the timeline for completion of the merger, which was initially set for the end of the second quarter of 2022. 

He noted that the regulator may issue a notice of no objection if it is satisfied that the merger does not have or is not likely to have the effect of substantially lessening competition in the market or result in a dominant position. 

“While there is a possibility that a dissenting view may be issued (notice of objection), we think the risk is low, as the regulator had previously maintained an accommodative stance on market consolidation and the merger construct,” he wrote. 

Commenting further, Tan added that the uncertainty as a near-term overhang on both stocks and the key risk would be an unfavourable decision by the regulator.

RHB foresees a knee-jerk selldown on Axiata Group’s and Digi’s shares following the SOI raised by the regulator on the proposed merger.

“The ball is now in the telecommunications courts to address concerns presented within 30 days. The risk of a dissenting view is low in our view, as the regulator previously maintained an accommodative stance on market consolidations and the merger construct,” he said. 

Both Axiata and Digi have been served with the SOIs on April 1 by MCMC on preliminary concerns over market competition that could arise from their proposed merger. 

Both were also requested to submit additional comments and information on the national retail market for mobile and lowspeed fixed broadband and data services, national retail market for mobile voice and person-to-person (P2P) messaging services (including the related local distribution channel market or markets), national wholesale market for mobile voice and P2P messaging services (including network sharing arrangements), and national wholesale market for mobile broadband services (including network sharing arrangements). 

Tan believes the SOIs may have triggered renewed concerns over merger execution. 

He said the development has also caught the market off guard, as Axiata’s and Digi’s management teams had earlier indicated — during their results call and briefings — that the integration process is progressing as planned. 

RHB has maintained its ‘Neutral’ call on the telecommunication sector.