Wing Lee, CEO of Yes, the brand name of YTL Communications, Malaysia, is taking part in a panel discussion on Day One of the Broadband Asia conference, taking place on the 9th-10th April 2013 at the Kowloon Shangri-La Hotel, Hong Kong. Ahead of the show Lee tells us about the key challenges to data monetisation, where wifi fits into the overall Yes strategy and the opportunities that cloud computing presents to the carrier.
What major developments have there been for the broadband industry in your region over the past year?
We are starting to see early stage deployment of 4G LTE in the region. Having launched the world’s first converged 4G network over two years ago in Malaysia, we now have an expansive footprint of over 4,000 base stations – all running the same 4G technology. We are heartened to see operators in the region starting to dabble with 4G technologies but most of them still rely on 3G or 2G fall-back as their 4G network build-out is still at early stage. At YTL Communications, we pride ourselves in having the broadest ubiquitous 4G network in the region and we look forward to leading by example to show the world how to fully unleash the power of having 4G everywhere.
What opportunities do the new cloud services provide for operators?
Cloud computing is one of the most exciting internet megatrends globally. For those that understand the value of cloud computing, this is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for operators to finally be in sync with the innovation curve of the internet. But cloud computing is only as effective as the availability of consistent high speed; low latency connections. It therefore underscores the key attributes of 4G – mobility, high speed and low latency. Surely you can get the latter two attributes of high speed and low latency from fibre connections, but when cloud is ubiquitous, so should the connection. For all these reasons, we feel the ubiquitous mobile 4G network we have built is perfect for cloud computing.
What are the key challenges around the monetisation of data?
Analysis of usage trends and basic economics clearly indicate that all-you-can-eat data pricing is not sustainable – period. Data can’t be billed as a series of 0’s and 1’s. Policy-based charging, modelled after usage patterns and adaptive to network conditions, is an emerging need for any operator that intends to stay in business for the long run.
How important to your rollout plans is wifi offload?
We also have embraced wifi. We proudly run a 4G power hotspot service on our KLIA Airport Express rail with seamless handover at 160km/hour. And we recently launched with KTB, the largest motor coach operator in Malaysia, high-speed mobile hotspot on their buses. This enables a whole new way to enjoy bus rides across the country – be it long or short haul. We all know that operators with older 3G technologies predominantly use wifi offload to handle capacity issues. But for us, wifi is an acquisition play. The fact is, we are already taking the lead in energising the 4G ecosystem with leading-edge devices – we have one of the broadest 4G device portfolios in the world. But there is no denying that wifi is still the world’s more ubiquitous wireless radio, available on most consumer devices. It is therefore the simplest way for our potential customers to get a Yes ID to log in to our 4G powered hotspots to start to enjoy our network. We are confident they will have a fantastic experience and will opt to sign up for service and use the same Yes ID to enjoy our world-class service on the widest nationwide 4G footprint and our expanding 4G hotspot footprint.
Where does fixed wireless come into your planning and if so what technologies will you be using?
We are already using several wireless backhaul technologies to accomplish that. When it comes to fixed wireless, it is really about being competitive at the unit cost level and the speed of deployment.
With networks where there are a mix of technologies in play are HetNet technologies the answer? If so, how best can they be exploited?
HetNets are somewhat of a necessity when technology is ever evolving. For HetNets to deliver on their promise seamless handover and unit cost reduction are key considerations.
What is the most exciting development you expect to see in broadband over the next 12 months?
Building and running a 4G network can only be the start of something much more exciting. We see the twinning of 4G network and cloud technology as one of the most exiting fusion opportunities around. In fact, we have been hard at work to create a cloud-based learning platform together with some of the world’s best players in this space and have started deploying it, along with our 4G service, to all 10,000 public school in Malaysia with strong support from the Ministry of Education in Malaysia. Combine with our ubiquitous 4G network, learning will be interactive, collaborative and can be performed anytime, anywhere. This is a truly exciting opportunity and we will do our best to show the world how cloud computing and 4G technology can come together to create a new platform that will help an entire nation.