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RealTime IT News

Time Wireless First in the Race for GPRS

[ASIA] Time Wireless Sdn Bhd, a unit of Time dotCom Bhd became the first local operator in Malaysia to offer commercial GPRS service this week.

Currently, the service, called TimeCel GPRS is available in Klang Valley, Penang and Prai. It will be extended to other parts of Malaysia by the middle and end of next year. At present, there are only 11 operators worldwide that have launched such services.

TimeCel GPRS offers an initial speed of 22 kbps that is comparable to those speeds currently available worldwide, between 25 to 30 kbps. GPRS is designed to offer mobile Internet a transmission speed of up to 114 kbps.

"Our target is to capture a sizeable segment of the techno-savvy yuppies who want faster Internet access and mobility," said Time dotCom chairman Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman.

"We are confident of securing around 150,000 GPRS service subscribers by the end of 2001," added Othman.

According to Time Wireless deputy managing director Navaratnam Krishnan, the company expects to rake in revenue of RM18 million (US $4.7 million) per month based on a 40-hour usage by 150,000 subscribers.

Krishnan disclosed that the company currently has 645,000 mobile subscribers, of whom 2,000 are WAP users.

TimeCel provides over 200 WAP content sites and with GPRS, the company plans to increase its content sites to include location-based services, telemetry and other Internet-related services.

Time Wireless will not charge any subscription fee for GPRS, but add a fee of five cents per minute for the mobile Internet access.

The initial investment on GPRS deployment cost Time Wireless RM20 million US $5.2 million) for the core network. The main suppliers of the network equipment are Nokia and Motorola who provided switches and radio base stations.

However, although the GPRS infrastructure is ready, there are no GPRS handsets in the local market other than trial sets.

Krishnan said that the handset manufacturers would launch their GPRS sets by the middle of January next year.

The Minister of Energy, Communications and Multimedia Datuk Amar Leo Moggie said that the launch of GPRS in the market is a good opportunity to gauge public response to advanced services that would come with the 3G mobile system.



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