Blame the mystery on YTL Communications, the newest player in the wireless broadband sphere. Calling it ‘4G’ technology, it promises high-speed Internet nearly everywhere you go for cheap and all-you-can-eat.
At the official launch November 19, YTL unveiled the prices with prices starting at 2.64 sen per MB for data usage totalling 2.5GB and below. The prices vary according to usage, where the more you use, the cheaper the rate per MB. At 3GB, the rate is 2.25 sen per MB and at 4GB or more, it comes to 2.10 sen.
The pricing seems targetted towards mid-range users as heavy bandwidth users would quickly find the cost prohibitive.
YTL claims 65 per cent coverage in West Malaysia including along the North-South highway, targetting 85 per cent by middle of next year. The company has yet to acquire a license for its services in East Malaysia.
What is 4G? If the tech boys are to be believed, YTL has no business calling what they’re offering 4G.
Tech consultant Gareth Davies says that as far as specifications are concerned, the technology YTL is selling isn’t 4G.
4G as a standard defined by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will only see its final release in 2012.
ITU defines 4G speeds as reaching 100 Mbps. By that definition, says Davies, “No one, right now, (is offering) 4G.”
Not that it matters to consumers, says Davies. “I don’t think consumers really care; they just want to know it’s faster than what’s already available.”
To be fair, YTL isn’t the only one advertising WiMax as 4G. American carrier Sprint, a major US WiMax provider is also touting its network as 4G.
What sets Malaysia apart from countries like the US, says YTL executive chairman Tan Sri Francis Yeoh, is that Malaysia has no legacy issues with its network.
“4G is not about technology,” says Yeoh likening 4G to the fast speed trains - tools to empower and drive business growth.
“People will feel the power of not being left behind.”
Yeoh claims that profit is secondary. “Bringing mobile Internet to all in Malaysia is the objective.”
What you’re getting
What YTL is calling 4G is, in actuality, a technology running on the WiMax or 3.5G standard. WiMax is certainly faster than 3G but the major difference is that 3G runs on the current GSM cellular network. WiMax runs on a different spectrum altogether and is primarily internet-protocol or IP-based.
In many ways, WiMax is theoretically more suited for delivering Internet services. GSM networks were built to carry voice but WiMax from the ground up was created to serve data, thus offers less latency as compared to 3G.
YTL’s network claims to have over 1000 base stations all over the country as compared to its nearest competitor P1 Networks whose stations number in the hundreds.
Besides data, YTL is also offering voice services along with its no-cap Internet. Users will be given a phone number that can be used to make phone calls though at press time, the YES numbers do not come with roaming services.
YTL is also in talks to manufacture telephony devices, and working with names like Samsung. YTL and Samsung is currently in the works to launch a device called Yes Buzz.
As Malaysians have already been burned by the empty promises of many broadband providers, should they put their trust in YTL?
All that can be said is that YTL’s network is assuredly faster but whether or not it is a better alternative to what’s already in the market remains to be seen.
For those brave or optimistic enough to take the plunge, online registration for the service can be done starting 6pm Nov 19 at the Yes site at www.yes.com.my