Norwegian Telenor seeing DiGi as Asia’s growth driver

DiGi.com Bhd, in which Telenor Group of Norway has a 49% stake is poised to play a bigger role in the latter’s overall Asian strategy.
From a financial perspective, DiGi is Telenor’s second biggest revenue contributor in financial year 2010 and 2011 in Asia after Thailand. It is now planning to be the first among Telenor’s other Asian operations to launch the much-envied long-term evolution (LTE) mobile data network.
“Yes, we are gearing up to be the first to launch the LTE in Asia,” DiGiCEO Henrik Clausen told StarBiz.
The LTE services is touted as the industry’s next growth driver and DiGi has pumped in quite a substantial amount of money to realise its planned rollout of these services in 2013. Henrik added that capital expenditure would total RM700mil to RM750mil this year, which is about the same amount last year.
“This is supported by our need to expand and support our capacities and network systems. This is important while we go through changes in terms of the transformation programme and also for the modernising of our networks, IT and the way we distribute our services,” Henrik said.
“More than 5 million of our ten million customers today consume mobile Internet. Our ambition is for all our customers to be Internet users,” he added.
Telenor, which has been DiGi’s largest shareholder since 2001, views its Malaysian operations as one of the main drivers in Asia.
“We have been with DiGi for quite a number of years already and moving forward, we want to take DiGi further into the data age which is happening now. Malaysia is a front runner in this shift towards greater bandwidth and new types of applications,” Telenor group CEO Jon Fredrick Baksaas said recently.
“Telenor thinks that the innovative dimension of DiGi is quite beneficial for the overall marketplace to develop and this are my expectations to the management at DiGi,” Baksaas added. Besides its presence in Malaysia through DiGi, Telenor also has a presence in Thailand, Bangladesh, Pakistan and India where it has significant stakes in all of the companies it has interest in. Asia is expected to drive growth for Telenor given the flourishing population dynamics in the region, which is also moving the world economy along to date on the backdrop of economic uncertainties in the west.
Back to Malaysia, Henrik said that DiGi was halfway through upgrading its entire network nationwide with 50% of sites being fully upgraded and technologically ready both internally (such as IT) and externally with the infrastructure to date.
The rollout of an LTE-equipped network is part of the company’s holistic business transformation to become a stronger data-centric business to cater to future market dynamics and the population’s thirst for quicker data supporting rich Internet services to its customers.
Delivering data needs to users today such as the impending LTE requires a different set of technology from a voice dominated scene before and this involves the laying of high-tech fibre optic cables to the mobile base stations to ensure seemless and uninterrupted speeds.

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