Telekom budgets RM100mil for CDMA expansion
Wednesday, February 05, 2003
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TELEKOM Malaysia Bhd has set aside RMl00mil to expand its wireless fixed-line services using code division multiple access (CDMA) technology this year, said its TelCo chief operating officer Dr Idris Ibrahim.

With the investment, Telekom would be able to offer an additional 70,000 wireless fixed lines, mainly to the rural areas. Last year the company invested RM180mil and installed 200,000 lines using CDMA technology. About 51,000 customers are currently using these lines. The move to offer wireless fixed-line services was to help the government narrow the digital divide in the country, ldris said, pointing out that Telekom was known for offering telephony services to both urban and rural areas, and in remote places where no other operator would venture into.

Where demand for telephony was low, the best option was to offer wireless fixed lines, as the cost of laying copper or fibre optic lines was high. he added.

Telekom began with the introduction of radio in the local loop (RILL), a wireless technology, in 1994. In 2000, it upgraded to wireless in the local loop (WILL) technology.

But since last year it has moved to CDMA technology, which has a path to future upgrade and enhancement. Telekom has 3 dedicated CDMA exchanges, one each in Putrajaya, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu.

The basic CDMA service is able to provide voice telephone, data and value-added services such as call waiting, caller identification and call transfer services.

&# 147:Basically, 80% of the CDMA service is deployed in rural areas. It is also deployed at new development sites for the interim until the fixed line infrastructure is ready,'' Idris said.

For this year new base stations would be installed in areas where there is high demand. The waiting list for telephony services has been reduced to 60,000 from 90,000 with the introduction of wireless fixed line telephony.

To a comment that fixed line telephony globally was saturated, Idris said it was not the case in Malaysia.

&# 147:Malaysia is rather unique, as there is still demand for fixed line services in the rural areas although the service is saturated in the urban areas.

&#147:Fixed line telephony is being replaced by mobile, especially in the urban centres, where the demand is mainly from the younger people. Cellular services have also not gone to the rural areas, so there is where we come in with the wireless fixed line service.'&#039:

But he added that Telekom's effort was in no way in collision with that of the Malaysian Communication & Multimedia Commission, which had initiated the setting up of a universal service fund, to which all operators have to contribute a portion of their earnings. The fund will be used to bridge the digital gap.

&# 147;We are still discussing the current mechanism with the commission. Nevertheless, we are going ahead with our own expansion. &# 147;Our effort complements theirs and whenever there is no telephony service it is Telekom that is called, or blamed, and not any other operator,&#039,' he said.

Asked if adoption of CDMA was the best option for wireless fixed telephony, Idris said it was &#I 47;the best and most cost effective. It was much cheaper than RILL, and the evolution path more obvious.''

He said from CDMA2001x, there can be a path to CDMA2000Ix-evdo, which offers higher data of 2.3 megabits and CDMA2001 Ix-evdv &# 150, which can offer 3.6 megabits transmission speed.

Other countries adopting CDMA, but for mobile services, include South Korea, Japan, China, Thailand, Hong Kong and India.