ViewQwest has become the first Singapore Internet service provider (ISP) to offer its services in Malaysia, following its official launch there today.
In an interview with The Straits Times, its chief executive Vignesa Moorthy said: "The cost of connectivity is so high in Malaysia. We see that as a business opportunity."
Since the beginning of this year, the ISP has been rolling out its network in Kuala Lumpur. Currently, it owns about 100km of underground fibre optic cables in key business districts in Kuala Lumpur: the Golden Triangle, Bangsar South and Cyberjaya. Its joint venture partner, Malaysian telecommunications engineering firm Televenture, installed the underground cables.
The ISP has already started offering up to 10Gbps of dedicated Internet links to businesses at "competitive" rates. Mr Moorthy said a 100Mbps link in Malaysia currently goes for RM30,000 (S$10,000) a month.
By year end, ViewQwest will also start selling 1Gbp fibre broadband plans and virtual private network (VPN) services to private home owners in Kuala Lumpur. Its VPN smarts will be incorporated in its media streaming box to allow customers to access movie streaming services.
In Malaysia, a 30Mbps fibre broadband plan currently costs RM199 (S$66) and is available to only about one million out of 8.5 million households in Malaysia. Underground fibre optic links have not been laid yet to reach the rest.
The fastest available fibre broadband plan offering a surfing speed of up to 500Mbps for home users costs RM299 (S$99) a month. But the service is available to only 250,000 households.
Mr Moorthy said ViewQwest will price its 1Gbp fibre broadband plans and VPN services for home users "competitively". He acknowledged the Singapore government-funded Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network (NGNBN) - from which ViewQwest leases wholesale fibre capacity - for giving it the relevant experience. "If not for NGNBN, ViewQwest might not have the confidence to experiment with residential broadband services," he said.
Mr Khoong Hock Yun, assistant chief executive of the Infocomm Development Authority, which spearheaded Singapore's NGNBN, told The Straits Times that it is glad that the project "has not only given our ISPs the opportunities to innovate in the local market, but also enabled them to build capabilities and grow their presence overseas".
ViewQwest now has more than 20,000 home and corporate customers in Singapore. With the experience gained here, it is confident of its ability to scale up to cope with tens of thousands of subscribers throughout Malaysia. It has plans to expand services to Penang or Johor Baru by next year.
The architecture of its fibre broadband network in Malaysia is similar to that in Singapore. In Singapore, fibre links are taken all the way to homes, with a termination point installed within the home.
Last October, ViewQwest also exported its network know-how to Oman, which plans to take fibre links to about 90 per cent of homes in its capital city of Muscat and 35 per cent in other governorates.
It is not the only local fibre broadband provider which has ventured overseas. Last May, telco M1 formed a joint venture with Oman telco Integrated Telecommunications Oman to offer fibre broadband services, among others, there. In 2014, MyRepublic started its fibre broadband services for business users in New Zealand.