Wednesday June 27, 2012
Fight for cellular subscribers for home services will get tough
By B.K. SIDHU
PETALING JAYA: The fight among cellular companies for subscribers in home services segment will only get tough when Maxis Bhd and Celcom Axiata Bhd are able to offer a complete products and that may take some time, experts said.
Till then, they said Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) would continue to dominate the market.
However, Maxis recently tested the ground by slashing its rates to RM118 a month for its 10Mbps offering (part of the home services package) and is said to have got “encouraging response.''
The number of new adds is something Maxis is not willing to share but those in the know claim that Maxis' move to slash rates to below what TM is offering certainly had irked the incumbent, more so since Maxis is riding on TM's high-speed broadband (HSBB) network to offer the services.
TM charges RM199 a month for 10Mbps.
But that is to be expected since the celcos are entering new turfs to grow revenues as those from short message services and voice traffic is gradually stagnating.
Video offers the highest average revenue per user and hence that seems to be the reason why celcos are adopting new generation equipment to deliver services not just for handheld devices but also moving into consumers' living rooms by bundling services so that they are able to offer packages for the entire family.
To provide voice, video and data in a single channel required more bandwidth and to achieve that, celcos were shifting towards fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) technologies which could support voice, data and videos over a single channel, said a report.
Besides rolling out their own FTTH, Maxis and Celcom will ride on TM's HSBB to offer home services, thereby giving competition to TM, which also offers its own home services known as UniFi.
TM has rolled out HSBB to 1.22 million premises and by end-2012, this would growh to 1.3 million. TM now has 384,000 UniFi subscribers.
“Those loyal to TM remain with them but in a market where there are choices, users will move networks to get the best deal. We have seen that in the mobility world and now that will happen in FTTH area. People will move to where the value is,'' said an observer.
But TM is unperturbed by the impending competition from players like Maxis and Celcom.
“We welcome FTTH roll-out by other services providers. Competition is always going to be fierce and cannot be avoided with more mobile and wireless providers introducing their products and services to the market,'' TM said in response to queries from StarBiz.
To TM, this is “healthy competition'' as there will be a variety of broadband offerings and choices for consumers.
“What is important for us is to step up efforts and continue to challenge ourselves to be more innovative and creative in designing new products and service offerings for our customers, in line with our aim of delivering an enhanced integrated digital lifestyle to Malaysian homes,'' TM said.
Today, Maxis will sign agreements with 15 content providers in the hope that it can build a chest of content that will be offered to consumers via its home services.
The content providers include Radio Televisyen Malaysia, Media Prima, Travel Channel International Ltd, Vision Plus Entertainment and All Asia Multimedia Network, which is the content aggregation arm of pay-TV group Astro All Asia Networks plc.
Maxis has 41,000 home services customers, including 5,180 on the home fibre Internet. It has also wired up 400 to 500 commercial buildings and multi-dwelling units and recently appointed Abru Dorman as its head of home services after Harold Quek left.
Rival Celcom Axiata Bhd also chose today to unveil its communications plan as to how it intends to get into the home services business in a bid to remain very much in the competition.
The celco has taken billboards space in Peninsular Malaysia to inform that it is not a mere cellular company but one that offers mobile, home, WiFi and data services.
“We plan to roll out our home services in the last quarter. It will comprise various services to meet customers' needs such as high-speed Internet, voice-over Internet protocol as well as content services,'' Celcom said in reply to queries from StarBiz.
It added that “unlike our competitors who only concentrate on TM's HSBB coverage area, Celcom will engage and integrate with multiple networks.''