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CO-WRITTEN / PARTNER | Staff Reporter, Malaysia
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YTL Communications claims Connectivity - Telecommunications prize at Malaysia Technology Excellence Awards

The communication service provider was tapped by Facebook to build the first large-scale Terragraph trial network in Asia.

YTL Communications was handed the Connectivity - Telecommunications trophy at the recently concluded Malaysia Technology Excellence Awards.

The inaugural awards event honours enterprises that take risks and lead the charge in developing groundbreaking projects, digital services, reimagined strategies, and technological initiatives.

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Inclusive Internet Index 2019 found that the average broadband download and upload speed in Asia is 22.2Mbps and 10.8Mbps, respectively. Although this represents significant progress in recent years, further investments and new innovations are required to leapfrog into the age of gigabit networks.

“At present, there are two methods to provide truly ‘gigabit’ speeds: traditional fiber and emerging millimetre wave wireless networks. The latter has tremendous promise, as evidenced by the central role millimetre wave technology plays in 5G,” said Wing K. Lee, CEO of YTL Communications.

Wing added that although fibre is the de facto standard today for delivering connectivity in the gigabit realm, it is often prohibitively expensive and time-consuming to deploy. And once laid, it is not easily extendable to service changing demands.

Facebook developed Terragraph to address the problem using millimetre wave technology at 60GHz, which is being sanctioned as unlicensed spectrum across the world. Terragraph nodes form a wireless mesh capable of carrying gigabits of symmetrical bandwidth.

With its compact and lightweight nature, Terragraph nodes do not need new telco structures to be erected but, instead, rely on the abundance of existing street and building structures to create a dense yet flexible wireless network.

This enables a breakthrough in deployment model that can make gigabit networks more broadly available.

The historic George Town in Penang was chosen due to its UNESCO world heritage status which presents a challenge for fibre deployment given the strict architectural guidelines.

Using advanced AI-based planning tools, YTL Communications and Facebook Connectivity teams were able to deploy Terragraph on 163 lamp poles in George Town to build a gigabit wireless mesh network that powers up 50 free public Wi-Fi Hotspots and deliver wireless broadband service to 120 businesses and government offices in less than 3 months.

For the past 8 months, the free public Wi-Fi service has provided service to over 33,000 unique users with amazing peak speeds of up to 200Mbps. This class-leading service has seen a retention rate of over 75%, on average each user consuming a hefty 358Mb per session. In the same time period, the 120 wireless broadband users are experiencing 50-172 times faster performance than their previous Internet Service Provider.

“The trial in George Town is a robust demonstration of Terragraph as a cost-effective and innovative wireless fiber solution. The learnings from Malaysia have contributed to the development of Terragraph and confirm its potential to make a real impact to uplift communities across the world,” Wing noted.

The Malaysia Technology Excellence Awards, presented by Singapore Business Review, was held on 3 December 2019 at Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.

This year's nominations were judged by a panel consisting of Alvin SH Gan, Executive Director, Partner, and Head of IT Enabled Transformation (ITeT) at KPMG Malaysia; Yoon Hoong Hoh, Partner, ASEAN Digital Assurance Leader, and Head of Diversified, Technology and Communications Group at Ernst & Young; Justin Ong, Partner and FSI Financial and Regulatory Risk Leader at Deloitte Asia Pacific; Hari Iyerm, Executive Director of Advisory at BDO Kuala Lumpur.

If you would like to join the 2020 awards and be acclaimed for your company’s exceptional technology innovations, please email julie@charltonmediamail.com

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