Malaysia’s largest operator Maxis reported strong gains in data usage as its 4G customer base more than doubled and ARPU edged up, but its profit was flat due to a jump in capex and forex losses.
The operator’s net profit rose less than 1 per cent to MYR1.96 billion ($473 million) last year, after adjusting for accelerated depreciation due to its network modernisation as well as unrealised forex losses. EBITDA expanded 4.1 per cent to MYR4.4 billion. Its Q4 profit, however, was up 7.2 per to MYR477 million.
A 3.9 per cent increase in service revenue last year to MYR8.5 billion was driven by a 6.2 per cent rise in prepaid turnover to MYR4.18 billion as data usage expanded strongly. Postpaid revenue grew 2.7 per cent to MYR3.66 billion, with ARPU rising 4 per cent to MYR102 ($24.60) on strong data gains, despite a decline in voice and SMS revenue.
Its 4G customers increased by 138 per cent to 2.8 million over the last year. Prepaid data usage jumped 67 per cent to 1.5GB per user per month.
Maxis CEO Morten Lundal said its modernised network now covers nearly 90 per cent of the population, while its LTE network reaches 71 per cent of the population, up from 33 per cent a year ago.
With prepaid ARPU flat at MYR39, overall blended ARPU increased 2 per cent to MYR55.
Its prepaid user base dropped 1.6 per cent to 8.52 million and its postpaid customers declined by the same amount to 2.76 million.
The operator increased capex last year 21 per cent to MYR1.3 billion to nearly complete its network upgrade.
The market leader has a 30 per cent market share, just ahead of Celcom with a 29 per cent share.
Maxis said after the government’s planned spectrum reallocation its 900MHz holding will be cut to 2x10MHz and its 1.8GHz allotment will be reduced to 2x20MHz. It will make a announcement after it carries out a detailed review and the government provides more clarity on the move to up-front spectrum assignment fees, which have yet to be determined.