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Friday, April 04, 2008

Mobile & Telco News

Complaints against telcos skyrocketed.

Apr 3, PUTRAJAYA: The number of complaints against services offered by telecommunication firms has risen dramatically from 664 cases in 2006 to 2,147 last year, a whopping increase of some 223%. According to the Industry Performance Report released by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission for last year, the most frequent complaint was poor services offered by service providers, including service downtime, line interruption and slow internet speed.

"Other complaints were unsolicited SMSes and inability to stop the service, billing dispute, cellular coverage and blind spots," it said. The report said one possible reason for the big increase was the publicity and advertisements published by the commission in the mass media on ways for consumers to register their complaints. Last year, the commission also saw an increased number of grouses on content, rising from 51 in 2006 to 95.

Most of the complaints were made against websites on the Internet, with obscenity being the main objection. "Our enforcement activities also increased last year. We investigated 352 cases while 16 others saw prosecution in court," said the report, adding the commission also imposed compounds amounting to RM1.13mil in 54 cases of complaints. The commission set up a complaints bureau in August last year to receive and handle complaints directly from consumers. On the other matter, the commission also noted that more Malaysians now owned mobile phones, compared to fixed lines.

"There are now 23.3 million mobile phone subscribers. Overall, our market has more prepaid subscribers than postpaid ones, at a ratio of 80:20". "Fixed-line services experienced continuous decline over the last year. There are now 4.35 million fixed-line subscribers," it said.

10 SIM cards the limits

Apr 2, PUTRAJAYA: Mobile phone users are no longer allowed to buy or have more than 10 SIM cards from any telecommunications company. Dealers registering details of prepaid card buyers must also transmit the information directly to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission via a GPRS MyKad reader.

Commission chairman Datuk Dr Halim Shafie said these measures were to prevent abuses and enhance the security of data provided by consumers. He said the commission had traced one man who had more than 400 SIM cards.

"When we asked him, he said people had been registering as mobile phone users under his name, so this was clearly a case of a fraud. To prevent such abuse, we will restrict the sale for the purpose of security. Why does a person need 400 SIM cards in the first place?" he asked. "In this case, we compounded the service provider."

Dr Halim said many of the dealers input details of buyers of prepaid cards manually either via forms or online. This information is then stored with the dealers before it is sent to us. "This allows more opportunities for the sensitive information of consumers to be compromised. Using the reader, which costs RM2,000 a piece, the information will be channelled directly to us," he said, adding that guidelines on the matter had already been issued to both telecommunications companies and dealers earlier this year.

Dr Halim was speaking to reporters at a conference on the local communications and multimedia market, which was launched by Deputy Energy, Water and Communications Minister Datuk Joseph Salang here yesterday. He said the guidelines would also require service providers to keep better records of their dealers as well as to ensure that registration of prepaid card buyers was done properly.

"There have been instances where the data of the prepaid card buyers was still not registered properly although that this is the requirement since two years ago," he said. Failure to adhere the guidelines can result in the telecommunications firms penalizing their dealers, including suspending or even terminating their contract.

Asked on the grace period for the dealers to obtain the GPRS MyKad reader, Dr Halim said the commission would continue to monitor the progress of the implementation of the guidelines. "The reader should be regarded as a tool of trade by the dealers for their businesses," he said.

Mobile TV in Malaysia to see huge growth.

Apr 1, A new report by Frost & Sullivan sees the mobile video services market in Malaysia is increasing its revenue to US$12.1 million (RM38.7 million) by the end of 2013, compared to just US$1.4 million (RM4.6 million) last year. The calculations are based on the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 42.7% from 2007 to 2013.

Huge growth in the mobile services video market is expected as mobile operators continue to spend millions on developing innovative services and content to arrest the declining average revenue per user (ARPU), the consultancy firm said in a statement released on March 12.
Mobile TV, which is essentially an extension of mobile video services in particular, is seen as the new primary application that could potentially bring alternative revenue sources for content carriers. The report showed that the Asia Pacific region (excluding Japan) chalked up revenues of US$440 million (RM1.4 billion) in 2007 and this is expected to grow by over 300% to US$1.4 billion (RM4.4 billion) by the end of 2013, at a CAGR of 27.4% for the 2007-2013 period.

Other than Japan, South Korea remained the biggest market for mobile video in the region, with the rest of the Asia-Pacific region expected to join the broadcast TV service bandwagon between 2008 and 2010. The potential leading markets identified for mobile video services include Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand.

"Amid the growing interest in triple-play and mobile advertising, mobile TV has been the buzzword in the Asia-Pacific mobile and wireless market," said Frost & Sullivan industry analyst Shaker Amin. Pricing however remain the biggest hurdle to a wider uptake of mobile video and TV services. In 2007, the total mobile ARPU in Asia-Pacific stood at US$16.8 (including Japan), largely due to the region's lower disposal income.

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