Michael Lai, CEO of P1 Networks

Michael Lai, CEO of P1 Networks

We speak to Michael Lai, CEO of Malaysian communications provider P1 Networks, about the progress his company has made in its rollout of TD-LTE services, and how he plans to achieve Return On Investment for these services.

P1 is playing a key role in delivering high-speed, high-quality broadband to Malaysians nationwide. What work are you currently engaged in to advance this vision?

Since 2008, P1 has offered 4G WiMAX services, and last March we launched our fibre-based broadband service ‘Fiber By P1′. Together, this offers the best of both worlds, as P1 can now offer 4G high-speed broadband in the air and Fiber on the ground.

The plans are designed to give business customers – SOHOs, SMEs, large enterprises – and consumers the strong backbone of fiber broadband and our staple 4G on-the-go broadband.

P1 is evolving to become a fully-fledged wired and wireless broadband company this year, and we are well positioned to eventually offer the full spectrum of connectivity and communication services to the broader consumer and business segments.

In addition, we are continuing to expand our coverage from 50 per cent to 65 per cent of the population by end of this year. We are also in the middle of expanding our coverage to East Malaysia, where P1 is currently the only nationwide 4G WiMAX operator. People in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah will be among the first in East Malaysia to enjoy high-speed broadband provided by P1 this year.

The incessant increase in data consumption drives us to be ready for the next wave of connectivity requirement. Since last year, P1 has been actively working on the next phase of 4G technologies – TD-LTE.

We have already done successful 30-minute software upgrades to our base station from 4G WiMAX to TD-LTE together with our vendor, ZTE during a media showcase.

For us, technological advancement is not an option, it is a necessity – especially in a highly competitive environment such as Malaysia. We see TD-LTE as our next step in the evolution of 4G technology.

Its prospects for enhancing mobile data usage on a large scale are very promising. It is P1’s intentions to be at the forefront of this new and exciting wave of 4G connectivity in Malaysia and the region.

What progress has P1 made with its rollout of TD-LTE services?

We have already tested and demonstrated this in Malaysia in April 2011 to a group of media and blogger friends. P1 is awaiting the green light from the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission for commercial deployment, which is expected to be in 2013.

As you may already know, TD-LTE is an international standard – major operators, i.e. China Mobile, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone support TD-LTE (three billion population, equal to half the world’s population).

P1 has met with major network infrastructure vendors which are investing in TD-LTE, such as Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei, ZTE, Motorola and NSN). The good news is that the largest chipset vendors (Qualcomm, ST-Ericsson, and Intel/Infineon) have all committed themselves to supporting TD-LTE.

Aggressive TD-LTE rollout plans had started in large emerging countries. This further reinforces the need for a large and powerful chipset ecosystem behind TD-LTE to drive down costs.

How does P1 plan to achieve ROI for these expensive deployments?

All technologies require capital investment in the early stages. TD-LTE promises to provide mobile users peak data rates of over 300 Mbps for downloads and rates approaching 100 Mbps for uploads.

These speeds will fundamentally alter the way users view the utility of mobile data, and create opportunities for innovative application developers and entrepreneurs to approach the market.

Life with the internet has evolved from simple email, file transfer and web surfing to web-based communities and hosted services, such as social-networking sites, video sharing sites, wikis and blogs

We believe the ecosystem for TD-LTE will be more affordable than 4G WiMAX, given the great support from 3G incumbents around the world. 4G WiMAX allows P1 to venture into monopolised fixed broadband market and incumbents’ favoured nomadic broadband market.

With TD-LTE, P1 can offer a fully-converged service ranging from mobile broadband to mobile voice and even machine-to-machine connectivity. So long as a telco sticks to its business plan with stringent cost management, it can expect to achieve the ROI.

What new converged services is P1 working on?

P1 is focusing on connectivity of our latest fiber products, bundled with our 4G wireless broadband. We are ready to roll out TD-LTE once our regulator the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission has given approval of the 2.6Ghz spectrum.

Michael is speaking at the Broadband IP&TV Asia 2012 event, taking place in Malaysia on 15th-16th May. For more information and to register, please visit http://asia.broadbandworldforum.com

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