Celcom Axiata accelerates RM256 million worth investments to upgrade network capacity

CEO of Celcom, Idham Nawawi.

Telecommunications operator, Celcom Axiata Berhad (Celcom) is accelerating approximately RM256 million of network investments to upgrade its network capacity and deploy more 4G base station towers nationwide, improving 4G coverage and quality, in both rural and urban areas.

Celcom’s accelerated network investments from 2020 into early 2021 will be further supported by the allocated capital expenditures in FY2021.

For the Q3 of FY2020, Celcom recorded an overall positive growth with QoQ improvements in Subscribers, Revenue, Cost and Profitability attributing the growth to new product offerings and strong sales and distribution performance; delivering positive net adds in Postpaid segments and robust growth in the Prepaid segment.

Celcom also recorded more than 40 percent of data traffic in the Q3, compared to 4Q19, as more consumers are digitally engaged from their homes. To support the increasing demand, Celcom is further accelerating network investments and expanding the reach of its 4G network coverage.

By February 2021, Celcom targets a total of 4,700 network sites, 49 percent in urban areas and 51 percent in rural areas, to be upgraded and optimised with capacity upgrades, installation of new 4G equipment and core network optimisation programs. 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 program for an additional 3,600 network sites, upgrading to better capacities to address buffering issues and deliver better voice and video quality for consumers, targeted to be completed by August 2021.

Idham Nawawi, Chief Executive Officer of Celcom Axiata Berhad said Celcom’s overall network experience is one of the key reasons for consumers choosing Celcom as a service provider. Celcom will be relentless in optimising its network coverage, capacity and resiliency, by accelerating investments at the most needed areas with the latest radio access network technology.

“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 needs connectivity, we hope to gain significant improvements in quality and experience. The Covid-19 pandemic and MCO may have some impact to our efforts on the ground, but nonetheless, we strive to overcome these issues.

“All upgrading and optimisation works are planned accordingly to ensure minimal or no impact on our 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. This will enable the delivery of high definition (HD) 720p video experience for more customers and an improved voice quality with Voice-over-LTE (VoLTE)” Idham said.

“Celcom is also aligned with the government’s Jalinan Digital Negara (JENDELA) 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 (MIMO), Carrier Aggregation, 256 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) and many more. To date, Celcom’s network remains the nation’s widest network with over 11,500 sites nationwide, serving over 13 million users,” Idham added.

Coming out of the Movement Control Order (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 RM139mn (+24.2%) and PATAMI by RM94mn (+64.5%) respectively. Prepaid revenue improved by +13.0% QoQ on the back of higher subscriber base with strong traction from Celcom Xpax’s ‘Truly Unlimited’ plan; ARPU grew+RM2 QoQ. Postpaid revenue QoQ improved by +1.6% with a resilient ARPU of RM84 and an increased subscriber base.

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