By GABEY GOH
PETALING JAYA: With current 3G coverage at 50% of the country, DiGi Telecommunications has set a target to expand that to 70% by year end.
“For example, in many areas outside Kuala Lumpur, it is (the slower) EDGE-only coverage, so there is a need to upgrade,” he said.
Asked how the coverage expansion would tie in with the expected rollout of (the faster) Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks, Rajan said the company’s focus is on delivering consistency in wireless broadband speeds and user experience.
“Internet access is now treated like a utility, in the sense that when it works, nobody complains. Most customers are not concerned about what technology underpins the network. They just want it to be fast,” Rajan said.
Intended to spur increased usage of mobile Internet, DiGi also has a DiGiLIVE Zero initiative, where users can access selected sites via the Opera Mini browser for free.
“We’ve found that many customers, especially first-time smartphone owners, are afraid to access the Internet via their devices. So what we’ve done is offer a safe channel for them to begin their exploration,” he said.
Sites on the list include Facebook and group-buying platforms such as LivingSocial, MilkADeal and DealMates.
Rajan also said that DiGi had no plans to launch its own app store, preferring instead to work with existing stores, such as Google Play and Apple’s App Store.
“We would much rather facilitate discovery of content, and embark on direct partnerships with others to offer access to such content for customers,” he said.
To illustrate, he pointed to a global agreement signed between DiGi’s parent company, Telenor Group, and search king Google Inc late last year.
Under the agreement, Android users on the DiGi network will be able to access and download a suite of apps from the Android Market in a store-in-store concept and pay for it via operator billing.
Operator billing is a form of micro-payment operated under financial regulation, where a consumer’s mobile account is charged for any purchases made for content, goods or services online via a mobile phone.
Rajan said there are still some challenges to be overcome before further expansion of operator billing for online content can be had.
“There many factors to consider, such as regulations for monetary transactions in different countries,” he said, adding that the maturity of the market also plays a part in the levels of demand.
“The Government could do more to ease the process and expedite the development of such payment channels to spur transactions. However, it is starting to ramp up its efforts, so we expect the situation to change in due time,” he said.