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Time, AtlasONE get MMDS spectrum

TIME dotCom Bhd and AtlasONE Sdn Bhd have been awarded three blocks each of the coveted multimedia multipoint distribution service (MMDS) spectrum by the Malaysian Communications & Multimedia Commission (MCMC). The blocks are part of the 23 blocks of spectrum allocated to Mega TV in 1995 for its television subscription service. Mega TV was then operated by Cableview Services Sdn Bhd, a company then linked to Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB). MCMC chairman Tan Sri Nuraizah Abdul Hamid told StarBiz that the 2540MHz to 2688MHz spectrum had been re-designated from broadcasting to provision of wireless broadband services. She said the spectrum could offer “enormous potential'' and there were 17 more blocks on offer. “We are aware that there is keen interest in these particular blocks and we hope the industry will come forward and take up the challenge in rolling out broadband services using the MMDS spectrum,” she said. “The idea of redesignating was to address the broadband connectivity issue for last mile, which has remained a problem although billions of ringgit have been invested in the core or backbone network to connect Malaysia.'' Spectrum is a bandwidth that allows assignees to provide an array of services if fully exploited. The 23 blocks allow the use of new digital technology, which facilitates non-line-of-sight communication that can cross any barrier, unlike existing wireless devices. The global trend towards mobility and the phenomenal growth in the area of wireless communication has resulted in spectrum being perceived as valuable and finite resource. In Malaysia, ownership of spectrum is vested in the government. AtlasONE recently secured funding of about US$50mil from Kuwait-based International Leasing and Investment Company (ILIC) for the first phase of its broadband communication services. It was reported to have already obtained a RM80mil loan from Bank Pembangunan dan Infrastruktur Malaysia and has a RM150mil credit line. Time dotCom unit TTdotCom Sdn Bhd has secured three of the six blocks allocated. TTdotCom operates a fibre-optic network in the country. Nuraizah said that AtlasONE was given the concession to roll out services in the country except Sabah and Sarawak while TTdotCom had been granted the concession to roll out only in Selangor and the Federal Territory. The allocation of the spectrum is conditional on roll-out being undertaken within one year from the date of allocation. Since the usage of the spectrum has been re-designated to digital, contenders for the spectrum blocks will have to fully employ digital technology in delivering two-way communication services, including high-speed and high-capacity data transmission and Internet service, on a regular basis. The allocations to AltasONE and TT DotCom require that they roll out wireless broadband services. However, for special assignments like the 3G spectrum assignment awarded by MCMC in April this year, the assignment holder may be able to lease out the spectrum to other users, subject to the terms of the assignment. The MMDS frequency band, 2504-2688MHz, was used by MegaTV to deliver standard analogue television services to subscribers. But its operator, Cableview Services, withdrew the service after three years.

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