Thursday, March 15, 2007

Malaysia to pick wireless broadband winner on Friday

Malaysia will announce the winner of a wireless broadband Wimax licence on Friday, as the country scrambles to boost Internet transfer speeds to catch up with technology-savvy neighbours.

Communications Minister Lim Keng Yaik said on Thursday that industry regulator the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) would make the announcement.

"I have just received the recommendation of the MCMC," Lim told reporters. "I have gone through it. I will be sending it down today, so they should be able to make an announcement tomorrow."

Malaysia has said it aims to launch the service this year, and Lim has earlier said the number of licences to be given out depended on the regulator's recommendations, but he gave no details.

The government had said up to four blocks of the 2.3 GHz spectrum would be up for grabs, but it was looking to award only two blocks initially.

Seventeen firms applied for the high-speed WiMax spectrum. They include state-controlled telecommunications firm Telekom Malaysia , and mobile phone services operators Maxis Communications and DiGi.Com.

The Star newspaper reported last month that technology firms Green Packet and YTL e-Solutions were front-runners to win a WiMax licence.

WiMax is similar to the familiar WiFi technology featured on most computer laptops, but analysts say it has a higher capacity, operates across much larger distances and is cheaper to set up and run than the high-speed 3G connection for mobile phones.

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