Time dotCom, MCMC in talks on national broadband

The telco backs the govt’s intention to double broadband speeds at 1⁄2 the price


Time dotCom Bhd has begun talks with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) on implementing the national broadband agenda to improve broadband quality at affordable prices, accessible to all Malaysians.

CEO Afzal Abdul Rahim (picture) said the telecommunications provider (telco) fully supports the government’s recent announcement of its intention to double broadband speeds in the country at half the price.

“We’ve already started engaging the regulator (MCMC) actively in this regard and we’re ready to go — we just hope the rest of the competition is,” he said, adding that the impact of the agenda on the company’s margins is expected to be “rather limited” as its price point is already low.

Speaking to reporters after the company’s AGM in Shah Alam recently, Afzal said Time dotCom’s target market remains the multi-dwelling units or condominiums, which comprise just over a quarter of the estimated 5.5 million purpose-built homes in the country.

“That’s our target market for now because we don’t have the means to reach the rest. It’s not that we don’t want to go to landed properties — it’s that we’re unable to, because we don’t have access to poles and we’re unable to plant new poles,” he said.

He added that the group is willing to invest its own funds to expand its coverage, though it first needs to “be given the chance to do so, and that’s up to the government to decide”.

Newly appointed Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo is expected to meet local telcos within these two weeks, to work towards improving Internet services at twice the speed rate, but at half the price.

“If we look at broadband in other countries, the services provided differ greatly from what we (Malaysia) have, so there is no reason why we cannot emulate other systems from overseas. That’s one thing I will try to do, (which is) also part of the 100-day plan,” Bernama reported Gobind as saying.

Meanwhile, Time dotCom has a cautiously positive outlook on its prospects this year, after having recorded double-digit earnings growth for the first quarter (1Q).

Despite the challenging outlook for the telco industry, the group still sees growth in the market, he said.

Time dotCom’s net profit rose 18.6% to RM62.94 million in the 1Q ended March 31, 2018 (1Q18), from RM53.05 million posted the year earlier, mostly attributed to improved cost efficiencies and higher share of profit from investment in associates.

Revenue for the quarter climbed 5.6% to RM230.73 million from RM218.42 million registered a year ago, underpinned by a 23.2% year-on-year (YoY) growth in recurring data revenue and 10.2% YoY increase in data centre revenue, as well as revenue growth particularly from retail customers.

Voice revenue, however, declined 21.9% YoY, due to lower usage in 1Q18.

Regionally, the group plans to work closely with its Thailand and Vietnam associates to integrate their respective individual networks with the group’s own network in Malaysia and Singapore.

“In particular, we look forward to working with our partner Symphony Communication plc in Thailand, that owns a terrestrial fibre network with cross-border capabilities to connect Malaysia, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos,” it said.