Q&A: Mohamed Asri Jaafar, VP, product marketing and operations, global and wholesale, Telekom Malaysia (TM)
Mohamed Asri Jaafar, VP of product marketing and operations for global and wholesale at Telekom Malaysia (TM) discusses the huge potential for telecoms across Asia-Pacific.
What is your evaluation of the wholesale telecoms market in Asia-Pacific?
Asia-Pacific is the centre of global telecoms growth especially in emerging markets. Global carriers are racing against time to establish a foundation in this region to reap its potential. At a glance, this is seen as a major threat to Asia-Pacific players but on a positive note, we see this as driver for these players to step up efforts in addressing challenges from global carriers. We believe this is positive for Asia-Pacific to flourish as a competitive and dynamic region.
Obviously, carriers markets no longer focussing on connectivity alone. Carriers are competing to develop innovative solutions and services not only to traditional customers but also across many vertical markets. As a result, carriers have an opportunity to become a catalyst of change in how consumers and business doing things now.
Small and medium sized carriers that failed to follow the flow will eventually find it hard to stay relevant in the market. The most logical reaction for them is to get involved in a partnership, collaboration and even M&A activities with other carriers.
TM is now gearing up to become a winner in this region. We believe carriers that are capable to adapt well with market dynamics will emerge as winners in this region.
What challenges are operators facing in the region?
Regional stability in terms of social, political and economic landscape is a key requirement for Asia-Pacific to reach its potential.
Asia-Pacific must be ready to adapt and adopt new and disruptive technologies to sustain its competitiveness. Technology intensive business is replacing labour intensive business which is good for efficiency and productivity.
Telecoms carriers need to assist governments in developing emerging countries across Asia-Pacific to build a strong foundation for growth. Investments in these countries will help boost economies, and improve technology and productivity which is essential for growth.
However, government and regulatory bodies also need to play a role for this to happen. For instance, we applaud the Malaysian government in its effort to boost broadband penetration in rural and semi-rural areas. We see this as a two pronged strategy where the government is trying to reduce digital gaps while expanding market share for telecom players.
TM is committed to play its role in driving Asia-Pacific to reach its full potential through its investments in several Asia-Pacific countries and believes other carriers, government bodies and policymakers have the same spirit in developing the region.
Why will the ASEAN region be crucial in driving growth?
Home to a population of more than 600 million, the potential of ASEAN is bigger than North America, Europe or even most of the BRIC countries. We expect ASEAN will become a major regional economic block in the near future and will be the game changer for the Asia-Pacific region in term of intra-regional trade.
Rapid urbanisation within several ASEAN countries also plays an important role in attracting business communities to invest in this region. In addition, the vibrant and internet savvy young population in ASEAN means serious business for OTT players, internet giants and ICT providers in Asia-Pacific.
However, digital and economic gap within ASEAN countries is still a concern. Addressing this issue is important, otherwise unlocking the ASEAN full potential is not possible. Telecoms and ICT providers can play an important role in reducing these gaps. TM for instance, continuously supports this agenda through its active involvements in ACASIA and regional submarine cable projects.
What role should telecoms carriers and operators play in facilitating regional growth?
Carriers and ICT providers can help boost the growth of vertical industries such as hospitality, FSI, oil and gas and manufacturing within Asia-Pacific by providing competitive and innovative solutions.
We have witnessed cloud, IoT, media delivery, unified communications and big data solutions have tremendously increased the efficiency and affordability of vertical industries in reaching and meeting the demands of its audience. Although current adoption is concentrated in certain countries, we expect the trend will expand to other developing countries in the very near future as enterprises and SMEs keep on trying to address margin pressure.
Cooperation between telecom carriers and the public sector will also be critical in creating balance. Deployment of projects via partnership between private-public cooperation can assure cost-effectiveness and successful project implementation.
TM has more than 20 years of experience in implementing public partnership projects in Malaysia and we are ready to share our experience and expertise in other APAC countries.
More investments are required within Asia-Pacific to cater growing telecoms demands specifically in infrastructure developments. In-country, intra-regional and inter-regional infrastructure developments by carriers are critical to avoid bottlenecks and disruption.