Ericsson eyes larger share in continued SEA growth

Ericsson South East Asia expects a continued growth of mobile phone operations in the region this year, attributed to the issuance of new licenses, increased investments for coverage and capacity, as well as third-generation (3G) introduction in the region.
     Mats H. Olsson, president of Ericsson South East Asia and country manager of Ericsson (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, told a press briefing at the company’s South East Asia headquarters in Cyberjaya, Malaysia on February 16 that telecom operators in 13 Asian countries were expected to invest about US$4.5 billion in existing second-generation (2G) networks and for 3G deployment over the next two years.
     Ericsson South-East Asia covers 13 countries – the ten Asean-member countries, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. The company has an approximately 30 percent market share and is the leading telecommunications supplier in the region.
     According to Olsson, Ericsson hopes to secure a sizeable chunk of the forecasted US$4.5 billion investment.
     “We have about 30 percent market share, but we are not necessarily satisfied with that. We will try very hard to growth this further,” he said.
     He added that the bulk of the spending may come from Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.
     About US$4 billion is predicted to go towards upgrading and capacity enhancements in existing 2G and 2.5G infrastructure mainly, and the balance of US$500,000 to new 3G deployment in 2005.
     Although most investments in these countries are expected to be for 2G expansion, Olsson foresees 3G to be successively introduced and rolled-out in Asean, with Malaysia and Singapore well on their way, followed closely by Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.
     Telekom Malaysia Bhd is expected to undergo 3G deployment which may only take place in 2005. Maxis Broadband Sdn Bhd will launch its high-speed 3G service for its mobile phone users towards the end of this year, with trial runs from end of March 2004. It was reported that Maxis will spend MYR3.5 billion over 10 years for its 3G service. Other telcos in the region include Indonesia’s Cyber Access Communications and Singapore’s Singtel and Starhub.
     Olsson said regulatory bodies in other countries in the region such as Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand and the Philippines had no plans to upgrade their network into 3G but might want to upgrade their 2G systems.
     Ericsson South-East Asia’s primary focus in the region are high potential markets of Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
     In Malaysia, Ericsson is today serving three local operators on their 2G technology and recently the first 3G contract was signed with Maxis.

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