YTL launches Asia’s first Terragraph trial in Penang

Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo attends the launch of Malaysia’s first large-scale Terragraph trial in George Town February 18, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo attends the launch of Malaysia’s first large-scale Terragraph trial in George Town February 18, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, Feb 18 — YTL Communications launched a large-scale Terragraph market pilot in the heritage city of George Town here today.

This is the first time that the newly introduced technology, supported by Facebook, is being introduced in Asia.

“This pilot project is the first wireless fibre network in Malaysia and this technology utilises existing street furniture such as lamp posts and traffic lights so we do not need to put up telecommunications towers or lay fibre cables,” said YTL Communications chief executive officer Wing K. Lee in his speech at the launch.

He said Terragraph, which comes in boxes to be installed on existing street furniture or even on buildings, consumes little electricity but can provide internet connectivity to all urban households with little disruptions, without massive infrastructure works and lower installation costs.

“It will bring us lower internet pricing, improve connectivity and upgrade internet speed from megabit to gigabit,” Lee added.

Terragraph, introduced by Facebook in 2016, is designed to bring gigabit speed to dense urban areas.

Those in the heritage city of George Town will get to use the free public Wi-Fi provided through Terragraph during the trial period of six months starting March 1.

Lee said consumers, who signed up for the fixed wireless access, will get to use the 60Ghz wireless distribution network for free during the six-month trial.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo, who officiated the launch, said his ministry’s goal was to double the speed and halve the price of broadband in Malaysia.

“To date, my ministry has reduced prices of entry-level fixed broadband packages by at least 34 percent,” he said in his speech.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo attends the launch of Malaysia’s first large-scale Terragraph trial in George Town February 18, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo attends the launch of Malaysia’s first large-scale Terragraph trial in George Town February 18, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

He said now in Malaysia, 100Mbps packages are available for less than RM100 and entry-legal 30Mbps packages at RM79 per month.

“However, out of eight million households, only 18 per cent have access to high speed fibre broadband,” he said.

While mobile broadband space has very high penetration rate, Gobind said there is an urgent need for more high-speed fixed broadband infrastructure.

“This Terragraph pilot project is a timely one as it is in line with the National Fiberisation and Connectivity Plan,” he said.

He said Malaysia is the second country in the world after Hungary to be running Terragraph trials.

“It is reported that in Mikebuda near Budapest where trials were held last year, homes with slow copper connections had their internet speeds raised from 5Mbps to 650Mbps.

Later, during a press conference, Gobind said he has requested for a full report from the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission and YTL after the six month trial of the Terragraph.

“We will need to look at challenges faced during this trial period, how to implement it and how much time it will take to implement it after the trial,” he said.

He added that it is important that it at least meet with minimum standards of at least 30Mbps

YTL managing director Datuk Yeoh Seok Hong said they are working closely with the MCMC during the trial and the most important factor is to look at the quality of the internet network.

“We expect results to be good and we will seek to commercialise it with the right packages and prices,” he said.

He said it will take time after the trial period to work out any challenges and commercialise it.