Frankly, I have originally almost written off the YTL's telecommunication initiative until there are quite a number of postings which makes me wanting to rethink (thanks for the comment) - no disrespect to YTL, but I have discounted all the other telco players like Green Packet, Redtone, and even UMobile anyway. Hence, I am not putting YTL as the only one as a punching bag for my telco thoughts. Let me put it this way, among the tycoons, Ananda Krishnan has already won this war among the telcos - while the other two, Celcom and Digi are corporate owned today. Anyone wants to take a share out from Ananda, do something else. It was the same as when Vincent Tan attempted with Digi (did not go far) and now UMobile which will not go far as well - in my thoughts. In telecommunication, its either you have it or you don't. It is not like a power generation business where it is dependent on the areas served, grid etc.
Now 1BestariNet is a way for YTL to reduce its costs of deploying wireless data communication nationwide while using the government's money to help it to achieve its dreams. It is actually not wrong as schools will need to be digitally covered anyway. Anyone who can do it most cost efficiently should get the project. Now my thoughts are this - the one which probably can do it most costs efficient should be a combination of a strong wireless provider and a fiber provider. From there, where does YES stands?
A fiber provider should no doubt be Telekom Malaysia while for a wireless provider they should be any of the three telcos - Maxis, Celcom, Digi. For YTL to get this project, it must have very strong connections or may have priced them very low to beat the competition or even both. If YTL has the committed ambition to cover the entire country with YES network, then maybe it would have used this project to achieve its ambition. For Maxis, Celcom and Digi it is a given that they must cover the entire nation or at least the bigger cities and towns with 4G.
Now, why do I think it should be a combination of a strong fiber provider and wireless player. The cities - Klang Valley, Penang, Johor Bahru and ultimately to other cities as well. Ain't TM is currently laying the fiber already? If it is charging less than RM1,000 for a 20Mbps fiber internet or more ultimately, what else can beat that from among the wireless providers? Are we saying that every student will be provided a dongle for their notebooks? What the schools need to do is to cover the entire school with wifi. Isn't that a cheaper and longer term solution? Imagine every new student will be provided with a YES dongle...that does not make economic sense.
Say 50% of the schools are located in the cities or suburban areas, providing internet to these schools are hence not expensive. A one off costs of covering with wifi (should not be much) and just monthly internet bill of not more than RM1,000 to TM. Another 40% of schools in the smaller towns? (The real problem as usual is tackling the real rural areas which probably makes up the 10%) Well, they need wireless providers which is why the 4G LTE and WIMAX providers are for. Please tell me if I am wrong deploying WIMAX solution is initially supposed to be cheaper but with the need to pay for the CPE (Customer Premises Equipment) I would think 4G LTE will be ultimately used hence that's why all the telcos are getting some spectrum for the deployment of LTE.
Going back to 1BestariNet. If YTL is to deploy fully, it would be getting RM1.5 billion in 5 years - that's what the press statement says. What the press statement does not say is whether it includes costs of accessing internet. I would think so as it does not make sense to just cover and do not provide access for it. Again, I would think the government would not ask the students to pay for access, am I right? The project is RM1.5 billion in 5 years. That comes to
RM1.5 billion / 5 years / 10,000 schools / 12 months = RM2,500 per school per monthand we are still not getting the fiber speed which can be deployed to many of the urban schools as at now.
Every student is supposed to be provided with a dongle from YES or could it be a CPE in every classroom or something like that?
Now, comes YTL's grand plan...Its objectives of doing the 1BestariNet is to grab hold of the student's market - 5 million of them altogether. It is trying to get a market share out of it to achieve its initial target of 1 million subscribers that pay so that it can breakeven. To do that it has to achieve something like 15% from the student market assuming YES already has about 300,000 subscribers currently. Hence, the students will have to be provided with a dongle so that they can access the network from anywhere, anytime - either in school, home or any public area. In school, it is free but anywhere out of school it will not be free anymore.
HOWEVER, for those students whose houses are in the more urban areas, most of them would have access at home anyway - in fact many homes today and most in future will be wirelessly connected - either from 4G LTE, Unifi (fiber to the home) or Streamyx (old ADSL technology). They do not want to pay the extra.
As for the more rural students, chances are they do not want (or could not afford) to pay anyway and if they are, their homes may also be connected with Telekom's Streamyx. And if there are no Streamyx, chances are there's no YES access as well. Hence, how is the 1BestariNet going to turn YTL into a serious enough contender in Malaysian telecommunication sector?
Anyone care to comment as I think this speculation may not run too far although may sound simplistic...as I still could not get the rationale.
Note that these are my thoughts and it may be flawed.