| Danial Norjidi |
PROGRESIF Cellular Sdn Bhd is teaming up with Huawei Technologies to work on a new network development project to significantly improve the telco’s coverage, signal strength, data speed and capacity to match Singapore.
Paul R Hyde, the CEO of Progresif Cellular reassured that subscribers should start seeing significant incremental improvements in the network as early as January 2015.
“The rebuilding of the network is just the beginning,” he said, adding that Progresif Cellular will be carrying out a “100 per cent” replacement of the core part of the network.
According to him, yesterday’s signing ceremony between Progresif Cellular and its long-time partner, Huawei Technologies, is a “critical milestone” for the telco, which is striving to build a world-class business with a network infrastructure that will pave the way for innovation, and at the same time, reshape the communication landscape in the Sultanate.
Representing Progresif Cellular at yesterday’s signing ceremony was its Chairman, Haji Abu Bakar bin Hj Ibrahim, its Head of Legal & Regulatory, Hajah Nurul Haniah binti Haji Jaafar, and its CEO Paul R Hyde. Huawei Technologies, meanwhile, was represented by its CEO, Jiang Hong, as well as Lim Yah Yien and Guan Zhong Wei.
Since the announcement of the company’s takeover of operations from B.Mobile in June, Progresif Cellular’s focus has been on working to stabilise the business, while also evaluating its strengths and weaknesses in preparation for a comprehensive restructure and significant financial investment.
“The need for investment was evident from the beginning on a number of fronts, including infrastructure, systems, our ways of doing business and our team,” said the CEO of Progresif Cellular. “The first critical step is to invest in our network so that we can improve service for our customers.”
On the new network development project, he noted that it would be a “substantial undertaking” because the telco wants to ensure that during the process, subscribers do not experience any outages.
“I think it’s safe to say that with the plan that we’ve created with Huawei, there will be no outages, so we can reassure the customers that while we go through this process, there should be no disruption of services,” he said.
The second part of the contract, meanwhile, is to upgrade the entire radio network, which would be a “more substantial undertaking”, the CEO added.
Explaining further, he said: “At present Progresif Cellular has 187 base stations and they’re using a software version from 2006, when the network was first built.
“As I think we’re all aware, time has moved on, technology has moved on, it’s old architecture, and at the moment the maximum speed it allows is 7.2 Mbps … that’s absolutely maximum, and with the way the network is designed, realistically it’s very difficult to get there.”
According to him, the upgrade to the radio network will take the telco up to the latest standard of radio called ‘3GPP version 8.5’, which will allow it to have 42 Mbps speeds that are far more reliable.
As far as data users are concerned, this will be a “huge step in the right direction”, he said, adding that this upgrade will allow the telco “using 3.75G to give the performance of 4G”.
Meanwhile, Han Kee, Progresif Cellular’s Head of Technical Projects, pointed out that the network development project will mean the completion of 45 sites (base stations), which had been placed on hold during the insolvency of B.Mobile, along with new construction of an additional 31 sites which will drastically improve coverage.
“The second and third phase will mean a replacement of the network core and further upgrades, which will help improve quality of service, increase data speeds and clear network congestion allowing a better calling and Internet experience,” he said.
According to the CEO of Progresif Cellular, the additional 45 base stations will hopefully be on air by early April 2015, while the further 31 base stations by June 2015.
“If you consider that we have currently 187 base stations, then you add in another 76 base stations, Progresif Cellular is expanding its network by about 40 per cent and adding in almost 200 per cent additional capacity,” he said, adding that subscribers will also enjoy an Internet experience “as good as what you get in Singapore”.
Progresif Cellular’s Chairman Haji Abu Bakar, meanwhile, said: “At this stage it’s fair to say that this is only the beginning.
“But we think we’re off to a very good start.
“This is reflected in an early but noticeable growth in customer base and increasing usage of the network by existing customers.