MCMC to review 900Mhz and 1800Mhz spectrum to enhance mobile service quality

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KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 11): The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) will review the 2G telecom spectrum in the frequency range of 900Mhz and 1800Mhz awarded to various mobile players in the country to enhance the service quality.

"The 900Mhz and 1800Mhz spectrum are up for reviewed, and after the digital switch off, the spectrum of 700Mhz will become available," MCMC chairman Datuk Sharil Tarmizi told a news conference to unveil The Industry Performance Report (IPR) 2013 today.

"We are looking at variety of options for the implementation including auction, 'beauty contest' allocation or any combination of that," he said.

"Should we choose to implement spectrum refarming, the aim is to allow telecommunication companies (telcos) to provide better and quality service to consumer," he added.

However, he said MCMC has yet to decide which method to use and will only make the decision after consulting all players.

The revision is to adress the network congestion issue faced by the telcos and prepare telcos to tap into other value added services such as mobile TV.

According to MCMC, about 42% or 18 million out of the 43 million mobile subscribers are 3G users which resulting in the service interruption for some users.

One of the method is spectrum refarming. Spectrum refarming is the process of reclaiming assigned spectrum to reapportion it out to applicants.

For instance, a telco can do a spectrum refarming on their 1800Mhz spectrum to provide 3G or 4G services to users. By doing so, telcos will be able to ease the congestion on their network by diverting it to other spectrum which relying on the 2100Mhz or 2.6Ghz primarily for 3G and 4G services.

Sharil said this in reply to a question on the MCMC's plan to facilitate telcos to move forward in the changing industry landscape.

Meanwhile, MCMC is planning to narrow down the gap of spectrum awarded to the big boys and small boys in the mobile telecommunication industry.

"We are going to rebalance the spectrum of all mobile operators," Sharil said, this was due to mobile players was getting different spectrum allocation from the government.

"In a meeting last year, we decided to awarded 100Mhz of 2.6Ghz (4G or Long Term Evolution, LTE) spectrum to telcos which have more than 10 million subscribers, while awarding 50Mhz to smaller player whose subscribers base between 3 million to 5 million," he said.

"Hence, the first thing that we need to do is to rebalance the spectrum awarded to all players," he said, without elaborating the details.

By acknowledging that it was impossible to equalise the spectrum awarded to all players, MCMC pledged to be fair as much as possible.

"It [spectrum] is still not yet fully rebalance but we are looking at as equal as possible," Sharil added.

Going forward, Sharil foresees the telecom sector will remain as the main contributor to the communications and multimedia (C&M) industry in the future.

He expects that the broadcasting and postal sector's contribution may further increase following the introduction of digital TV broadcast.
He said the total contribution of the sector may register RM57 billion by 2020.

According to MCMC, telecommunication sector contributed nearly 85% of revenue share of the total revenue of C&M industry. It recorded a revenue of RM45 billion in 2013 against RM43 billion a year ago.

The C&M industry also contributed 11.5% or RM195.3 billion to the Bursa Malaysia's market capitalisation.