Packet One targets first WiMax launch in APAC

Operator hopes to provide high-speed mobile coverage to 25 percent of Malaysia's population by year-end, growing to 60 percent by 2012.

KUALA LUMPUR--Local wireless broadband operator Packet One Networks is aiming to be the first broadband operator to roll out a commercial 2.3GHz-based WiMax network in the Asia-Pacific region.

Speaking at a media briefing here Tuesday, Packet One Networks (P1) CEO Michael Lai said the company has selected Alcatel-Lucent's gear for the deployment of a commercial WiMax network in Malaysia.

"We are poised to launch a full-fledged, commercially-ready WiMax network in Kuala Lumpur, one that will be among the largest in the world by June," Lai said.

The deal is valued at US$71 million for phase one deployment, which is expected to run until the end of the year.

Under the agreement, Alcatel-Lucent will act as a turnkey contractor and is responsible for the supply of all related infrastructure, systems integration, testing and commissioning, as well as the operation and maintenance of P1's WiMax network.

Lai also revealed that the operator plans to provide WiMax coverage to 6.5 million people, or 25 percent of the population in Malaysia by year-end, and 40 percent of the population by 2010. By 2012, it expects to cover 60 percent of the nation's population.

He added that deployment is already "underway in the Klang Valley, Penang and Johor and will expand rapidly through the West Malaysia".

C.C. Puan, group managing director of Green Packet, P1's parent company, said customers will soon have access to advanced services such as voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), high-speed Internet access and data services while on-the-go.

Asked how P1's services will be different from other offerings already in the market, Puan said: "We are offering next-generation broadband and voice services to the market. WiMax voice, for example, will have full quality of service (QoS) and will be better than fixed-line connections."

In March 2007, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) awarded WiMax licenses to four lower-tier telcos, including P1 and Asiaspace Dotcom. However, none of the other three licensees have announced their respective plans to launch a commercial network to date.

Some industry sources have cited various technical challenges, ranging from coverage to speed problems, that have stymied the deployment of WiMax in the country.

Edwin Yapp is a freelance IT writer based in Malaysia.