Malaysia aiming for LTE auction in 2011

The Malaysian government aims to auction three spectrum blocks at 2.6Ghz for LTE next year.
Toh Swee Hoe, senior director research and planning at the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), told Telecoms Europe it expects to sell two 70MHz blocks at 2.6GHz and one 50MHz block.
“There will be a public consultation later this year with industry on the marketing plan for the 2.6GHz,” Toh said.
But with only three proposed LTE licenses, one of Malaysia’s four cellcos – Maxis, Celcom, Digi and U Mobile – will miss out on the valuable broadband spectrum.
All four operators are offering HSPA services today. The natural technology progression will thus be LTE in a few years’ time.
In the meantime, the MCMC is conducting closed consultations with all four operators about refarming 2G spectrum at 850MHz, 900MHz and 1800MHz for 3G.
“Bids for the new tenure will be limited to only [existing] 2G-3G operators,” said Toh on the refarming exercise.
The battleground for telcos in Malaysia is in the broadband space as operators strive to achieve the government’s goal of 50% household broadband penetration by year-end.
At the end of 2009, the penetration rate was 38.6%.
“We should achieve the 50% target,” said Toh. 
He said the goal was dependent on 1 million netbooks with broadband subscription being distributed by end 2010.
If that happens, this “should bring our penetration to over 3 million households,” thus the 50% target will be reached, said Toh.