M'sian WiMax operator off to shaky start

Last of four operators to launch WiMax in Malaysia, YTL Communications suffers series of malicious attacks on Web servers during official launch, leaving subscribers unable to access or sign up for services.

PETALING JAYA--Newly-launched WiMax operator, YTL Communications (YTL Comms), suffered a series of malicious attacks on its Web servers that lasted over 24 hours after its commercial debut, making it unavailable to customers looking to register as new subscribers.

YTL Comms officially launched its WiMax service dubbed, YES, on Nov. 19 but its Web site was allegedly targeted by malicious hackers and received "as many as 300,000 hits a second", according to a press statement released by the company Monday.

YTL CEO Wing K. Lee said in the statement: "On top of legitimate customer traffic, we also experienced a series of hostile attacks. As a result, we had to take tedious steps of filtering individual blocks of IP addresses to stop the malicious attacks."

News about the site's downtime started circulating at 5.30pm on Nov. 19, around the time of the operator's launch event at a prominent hotel here. Blogs, forums and social media chatter were abuzz with postings that the YES Web address yielded an unresponsive page.

This led to a barrage of online users expressing their exasperation of not being able access the YES Web site, including the creation of a Facebook fan page entitled, "Say No!!! to YES 4G".

Lee noted that YTL had taken steps to restore the service level of its portal and was taking steps to drive continuous improvement to the portal's performance. The company also introduced a YES Care service support hotline for subscribers, which was previously not available during its launch.

When contacted, a company spokesperson said the site is up and accessible to users in Malaysia. However, attempts by ZDNet Asia to access the site in Singapore and Taiwan failed to yield any response.

Some local online users also highlighted--on Twitter--difficulties faced logging into their account via the site and those who managed to sign up also noted difficulties connecting to the service due to low reception signals in some locations.

YTL launched its US$800 million network with promises to provide 65 percent coverage in Malaysia and surfing speeds between three and five times faster than services offered by current 3G competitors. YES pricing plans are based on a pay-as-you-use model and starts at 0.09 ringgit (US$0.03) per voice minute, or per SMS sent or per 3Mbps of data transmitted.

The company in March 2007 was awarded one of four licences to own and operate a WiMax network but was the last to roll out its network. It was fined last year for not meeting its required coverage target on time. YTL said it missed the deadline because it wanted to ensure it could provide 65 percent coverage before launching its service.

Edwin Yapp is a freelance writer based in Malaysia.

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