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Celcom Axiata Berhad
Industry Mobile telecommunication services
Founded 1988
Headquarters Celcom Axiata Tower
82 Jalan Raja Muda Abdul Aziz, 53100, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Key people
Michael Kuehner, CEO
Services 2G, 3G, 4G and satellite mobile network
Owner Axiata Group Berhad
Website www.celcom.com.my

Celcom Axiata Berhad, DBA Celcom, is the oldest mobile telecommunications provider in Malaysia. Celcom is a member of the Axiata group of companies. Being one of the very few companies in Malaysia to originally obtain a cellular phone license, it successfully introduced mobile telephony in Malaysia through its ART-900 (Automatic Radio Telephone) service, using first generation (analogue) ETACS (Extended Total Access Communication System) specifications of the United Kingdom, a derivative of the US-AMPS (Advanced Mobile Phone System) technology. The ETACS ART-900 was started using the prefix "010". Celcom now uses the dialling prefix identifier of "013" and "019" and offer digital GSM (Groupe Speciale Mobile), an originally European standard, now largely a world standard for mobile communications. The original frequency band for GSM is 900 MHz, and was soon extended to 1800 MHz to cater for a much wider bandwidth requirements. The 2100 MHz band is used for their dual-channel HSPA+ network. Celcom is also licensed and has been operating FDD-LTE on 1800 MHz and 2600 MHz.

Through the Mobile Numbering Portability by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, CELCOM also provides Virtual Mobile Operator services. Celcom also provides rural communications services using CDMA Technology and Satellite Phone.


Celcom started its operation as STM Cellular Communications in 1988 with Fleet Group and Telekom Malaysia as shareholders. Subsequently, Telekom Malaysia sold its 51% shareholding to the TRI group which was controlled by Tajudin Ramli. Fleet Group's share was transferred to the Time Engineering group which was later sold to TRI. In the initial years Celcom experienced a tremendous growth in subscriber base and network coverage under the stewardship of Rosli Man, the President of the company. It was during his tenure that Celcom turned into the leading cellular companies in Malaysia. Man left Celcom in 1996.

When the cellular phone market was opened up in 1995, Celcom upgraded to the GSM900 service and quickly grew to become the largest mobile phone company in Malaysia. Competition soon set in, and several digital mobile carriers competed for market dominance of the cellular phone industry.

During the 1997 Asian financial crisis, Celcom's owner, Tan Sri Tajudin Ramli suffered a debt crunch, and his shareholding in Celcom was seized by Danaharta, the national asset restructuring company. Failure to resolve his debts resulted in the controlling stake in Celcom being sold to Telekom Malaysia, the government-owned incumbent fixed line operator in 2003. Telekom Malaysia proceeded to merge Celcom with its own mobile-operator subsidiary TMTouch through a reverse takeover of TMTouch.

Celcom was originally listed on the Bursa Malaysia, but after the merger with Telekom Malaysia Berhad, it has since remained private.

Owing to the inferior management of its former management Celcom was found liable by an arbitration panel in Switzerland for infringing an agreement signed with Deutsche Telekom AG’s unit, DeTeAsia in 2002. The tribunal ruled that Celcom was liable to pay DeTeAsia US$177.2 million in principal plus US$16.2 million in interest as well as other legal and arbitration costs. The total sum was about RM740 million, leaving Telekom Malaysia to intensify its efforts at recovering monies from Celcom’s previous owners.

Coverage, products, and services[edit]

Celcom has the widest and most extensive coverage nationwide in Malaysia, compared to other cellular operators. In 2015, Celcom claims its dual-band GSM (900/1800 MHz) coverage has reached over 97% of Malaysia's populated area, and 100% through satellite coverage. Celcom had an 86% nationwide mobile service coverage with 3G availability expanding from Klang Valley, Johor Bahru, Melaka, Kulim, and Penang.

As of 2015, Celcom has 3500 4G LTE sites in the country. The Telco aims to offer up to 80% human population coverage by the end of 2016, and 95% of 4G LTE coverage by 2020.[1] Celcom 4G LTE network coverage stood at 82% nationwide while 4G LTE-A coverage is at 71%, as of quarter 3 of 2017.[2]

Celcom offers 2G, 3G, 4G LTE services on its postpaid and Xpax prepaid brands.

On 28 June 2000, Celcom launched GSM WAP on 2G GPRS at 170 Kbit/s[3].

On 15 May 2005, Celcom launched the first 3G service in Malaysia, covering most major towns where there is a Telekom Malaysia telephone exchange and either HSDPA or EDGE services within 15-mile (24 km) radius (GSM UMTS maximum allowed range) with GPRS as basic data coverage.

In 2013, the 4th generation standard of FDD-LTE was deployed gradually nationwide. The initial license is only on the 2,600 MHz band. In second quarter, its 1,800 MHz band has been refarmed to cater for both 2G and 4G.

In April 2016, the Celcom CEO told MalaysianWireless that both Ericsson and Huawei would build the Celcom 4G network in Klang Valley from 2016 till 2020. As for other states, Ericsson would build the 4G network in Sabah & Sarawak, Kelantan, Terengganu, and Pahang. Huawei would focus in Penang, Perlis, Perak, and Johor.[4]

Celcom operates 2G GSM/GPRS/EDGE, 3G WCDMA/HSPA+, 4G LTE networks.[5]

Frequencies used on Celcom Network in Malaysia
Frequency Frequency width Protocol Notes
900 MHz (890~900, 935~945) 2 * 10 MHz GSM/UMTS
1800 MHz (1745~1765, 1840~1860) 2 * 20 MHz GSM/LTE 2x10MHz LTE
2100 MHz (1950~1965, 2140~2155) 2 * 15 MHz UMTS/HSPA
2600 MHz (2530~2540, 2650~2660) 2 * 10 MHz LTE
2600 MHz 2 * 10 MHz LTE Spectrum sharing with ALTEL (ALTEL own 2*20 MHz, but only share 2*10 MHz with celcom)

Celcom Broadband[edit]

Celcom Broadband is Malaysia's most popular mobile broadband provider, with 1.534 million subscribers as of the first quarter of 2015. The broadband network cover 86% of Malaysia's populated areas.

Celcom Broadband was awarded the prestigious Frost & Sullivan’s Mobile Broadband Provider for two years.[6]


Kolony, launched by Celcom on 8 April 2011 was the first ever SMS-based social networking service in Malaysia.[7] Kolony targeted Malaysian youths and those that wanted to be connected to their family and friends frequently by using their mobile phone.[8] It ran on the regular SMS-based platform, allowing users to participate in social networking activities using the most basic mobile phones with or without a 3G connection.[9] It is a service consisting of a multi-user environment, including software and websites. After only a few weeks of its launch, Kolony recorded a total of 1.5 million subscribers.[10][11]

Magic SIM[edit]

On 4 June 2015, Celcom launched its latest Xpax limited edition simcard package, the Magic SIM. A RM5 Xpax Magic SIM starter pack comes with free basic internet, free 200 MB of high-speed internet, and 20 free minutes free calls and SMS or SMS to Celcom numbers.[12]

Current developments[edit]

Celcom is the Malaysian partner of the Vodafone mobile community. Celcom's past CEO, Dato’ Seri Mohammed Shazalli Ramly, had been with Celcom since 2005. Ramly left on 31 August 2016 to become the CEO of Telekom Malaysia on 1 May 2017[13]. Michael Kuehner was appointed as the current CEO of Celcom with effective on 1 September 2016[14].

Demerger from Telekom Malaysia[edit]

On 28 September 2007, Telekom Malaysia announced a revamp of its mobile communication units which include Celcom. The revamp plan was to group Celcom under TM International, which houses other TM regional mobile units and define it as a separate business entity. The restructuring exercise was completed by Q1 2008 and the new business unit listed on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange by Q2 2008.

TM International has been renamed as Axiata as part of a telecom consortium in Southeast Asia. Its stock exchange code is AXIATA.


As of the third quarter of 2017, Celcom have 9.67 million subscribers in Malaysia (6.8 million prepaid subscribers, 2.86 million postpaid users). Celcom subscriber number dropped from 9.93 million as of Q2 2017.

In that quarter, Celcom's ARPU for postpaid was RM84, and prepaid ARPU stood at RM33[15].


External links[edit]