Celcom sets RM256m for network investments


CELCOM Axiata Bhd sets RM256 million of investments to upgrade its network capacity and deploy more 4G base station towers nationwide in both rural and urban areas.

Celcom’s network investments from 2020 into early 2021 will be further supported by the allocated capital expenditures in financial year ending 2021 (FY21).

For the third quarter (3Q) of FY20, Celcom recorded an overall positive growth with quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) improvements in subscribers, revenue, cost and profitability.

In a statement yesterday, the group said its business growth and profitability are the results of new product offerings, and strong sales and distribution performance, delivering positive net adds in postpaid segments and robust growth in the prepaid segment.

Celcom recorded more than 40% of data traffic in both urban and rural areas nationwide in 3Q20 compared to 4Q19, as more consumers are digitally engaged from their homes, carrying out activities for education, entertainment, business, and many more.

CEO Mohamad Idham Nawawi said Celcom’s overall network experience is one of the key reasons for consumers choosing the network as a service provider.

“We are addressing the data traffic surge as our utmost priority, ensuring customers are always connected. By accelerating our network investments now for crucial areas that need connectivity, we hope to gain significant improvements in quality and experience.

“The Covid-19 pandemic and the Movement Control Order (MCO) may have some impact on our efforts on the ground, but nonetheless, we strive to overcome these issues,” he said in a statement yesterday.

He said all upgrading and optimisation works are planned accordingly to ensure minimal or no impact on Celcom’s network services.

These improvements also focus on delivering better in-building coverage from 4G LTE base station towers, a wider 4G coverage in rural areas, especially in Sabah and Sarawak, and improved download speeds which will enable the delivery of high definition 720p video experience and an improved voice quality with Voice-over-LTE.

“Celcom is also aligned with the government’s Jalinan Digital Negara initiative to achieve nationwide 4G coverage and continues to invest in deploying the latest end-to-end technology such as 4T4R multiple-input and multiple-output, Carrier Aggregation, 256 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation and many more,” he said.

By February 2021, Celcom is targeting a total of 4,700 network sites, 49% in urban areas and 51% in rural areas, to be upgraded and optimised with capacity upgrades, installation of new 4G equipment and core network optimisation programmes.

This also includes upgrading and optimising almost 1,000 4G network sites in Sabah and Sarawak, improving Celcom’s 4G coverage in rural areas.

Furthermore, Celcom will also continue with a nationwide cluster optimisation programme for an additional 3,600 network sites, targeted to be completed by August next year.

Coming out of the MCO, Celcom recorded a significant increase of 372,000 prepaid and postpaid subscribers, together with growing revenue and profitability.

Celcom’s overall growth recorded an improved QoQ profitability with Ebitda improved by 24.2% at RM139 million, and profit after tax and minority interests by 64.5% at RM94 million respectively.

Prepaid revenue improved by 13% QoQ on the back of a higher subscriber base with strong traction from Celcom Xpax’s Truly Unlimited plan, while average revenue per unit (ARPU) grew RM2 QoQ.

Postpaid revenue QoQ improved by 1.6% with a resilient ARPU of RM84 and an increased subscriber base.

Commenting on Celcom’s positive growth, Mohamad Idham said Celcom will remain committed to driving multiple initiatives on all levels to sustain the growth forward.