On March 24, 2010 TM launched UniFi, its much-awaited High Speed Broadband service. According to TM, UniFi is a combination of “Uni” signifying togetherness and camaraderie, and “Fi” symbolizing fiber optics.
For residential customers, UniFi offers a bundled triple-play service of high-speed internet, video and phone. For internet, the speed choices are 5 Mbps, 10 Mbps or 20 Mbps. For video, it is IPTV, delivered on a separate 8 Mbps channel, and consisting of TV channels, Video on Demand and Interactive Services.
Service delivered would depend on the type of building the customer resides in. For houses, it would be optical fiber all the way, in what is known as Fiber-To-The-Home (FTTH) architecture. For high-rise building such as apartments and condominiums, the fiber runs to the ground floor of the building, and then connects to the customer’s premises via existing in-building copper cabling, in what is known as Fiber-To-The-Building (FTTB)+Very high speed Digital Subscriber Line (VDSL) configuration.
On March 24, I was in Busan, South Korea (see here, and here) eagerly following the launch online. TM’s website was congested, so I could not get updates from that site. Instead, I got an almost real-time information of the launch on Twitter.
It was exciting. I could literally experience UniFi in Busan. Not the Malaysian UniFi, but the Korean high-speed internet which gave me glimpses of what UniFi could deliver. I consistently experienced aggregates of 5 Mbps or more downloading movies! One of the movies I managed to locate and download was Splash, a 1984 movie I watched 3 times (!) at a cinema in Perth, Australia, when I was a final year Electrical Engineering student at UWA suffering from examination blues.
Was my home in UniFi coverage?. Seemed to be that way. At launch, we were informed that premises in 4 areas of Klang Valley were covered by UniFi – Subang Jaya, Shah Alam, TTDI and Bangsar. I was confident that my home was in one of the 4 areas because way back in November 2009 I saw TM contractors laying fiber optic cables around my neighborhood and terminating them at newly constructed roadside cabinets. Talking to them, I gathered that their target was to complete the works before Eid Adha which fell on November 27, 2009. Additionally, I observed a new black cable with yellow stripes being strung on poles in the lane behind my house.
However, that was not meant to be. Even though the physical infrastructure was all there, the service was not yet available. That was it, until the morning of July 19, 2010, ten days after I had registered online, I received a phone call from TM UniFi Centre informing me that UniFi was now available in my neighborhood.
In the afternoon of the same day, July 19, I went to the nearest TM Point outlet, and signed the required papers. Actually I did not need to do that, i.e. go to TM Point. After confirming that my house is in a UniFi area, I could have simply phoned TM UniFi Centre, told them that I wanted to sign up, and they would have given me a date for installation. During installation, TM staff would bring the necessary papers for me to sign.
Considering that UniFi service involves equipment more expensive that normal phone service, I found the new phone-in option by TM to be very refreshing and very welcome change. However I still prefer the old fashioned way. There’s nothing like holding a copy of the order form in my hands, to assure myself that I was really on my way to UniFi…
On July 30, 2010, the date of the appointment with UniFi installers, I took a one day leave from work. Actually I took two days – one day to prune a guava fruit tree behind my house which had grown too big that the fiber and copper cables in the back lane were partially hidden in the branches; and another day for the UniFi installation.