YTL Communications, part of the heavyweight conglomerate YTL Corporation, launched their WiMax mobile broadband service, dubbed Yes 4G, on Friday, Nov 19, with heavy expectations from a Malaysian public eager to see a new player in the broadband space.

YTL Corp, whose primary activity is infrastructure and construction, comes into this space with a bold strategy and price plan: touting itself as the country’s “fastest mobile Internet with voice”, Yes 4G offers a pay-as-you-use structure of 9 sen (about US$0.03) per 3 megabytes of use/1 minute of voice calls/1 SMS message.

On launch day, YTL Comm also rolled out several devices tied into the system, including the Huddle, a MiFi-like device for WiMax that can connect up to five devices, and the Samsung Epic 4G phone, which uses YTL Comm’s proprietary VOIP software to make calls on its WiMax network.

Unfortunately, YTL Comm didn’t have the best of rollouts. The homepage was down for long spells throughout the following weekend, with YTL Comm claiming that the site was targeted by malicious hackers and received “as many as 300,000 hits a second”.

Then there were also reports by many users on Twitter that their passwords to their pre-registered accounts were not working, and security concerns when users received their secure passwords in plain text via email.

Though YTL Comm did have a very rough patch, early hands-on reviews on the service have been positive, with the service being able to deliver what it preaches: three to five times the speed offered by 3G services here. Here are some of the reactions:

Colin Charles,

The network works. The mail works. Their login to manage your Yes ID still does not work as I write this (post dated 23 Nov, 2010).

To me, this launch seemed a little rushed. There should have been some kind of soft-launch. Just look at the image about online security for example – “One day however a small line of blind text by the name of Lorem Ipsum decided to leave for the far World of Grammar” – shows they’ve lacked QA and things have been rushed. In fact, today there is no way to check your usage quota. There’s a lot of finesse missing, so why the rush?

Dinesh Nair,  Alphaque

… it was only 72 hours after the launch though that most of the problems they had in the website and WiMAX network (which to indications went off the air for a while from Saturday afternoon) were ironed out, and the chasm had been crossed. Indications started coming in of people enjoying good speeds, and I managed to clock a sustained 11Mbps download for 15 minutes in PJ yesterday night. However so, most indications of the packet latency and jitter on the network is weak with ping times approaching 180ms and jitter of 40ms to MyIX. While it is to be expected from mobile wireless technology, it does raise questions on the quality of YES’s voice offering, as that is inherently VoIP.

Malaysian tech community forum,

There is no doubting the speed that Yes4G has to offer despite it being early days yet. The promise of 3-5x faster than 3G has been fulfilled but I can’t help wonder what it will be like when more people adopt the service. For standard usage, youtube streams perfectly fine up to 1080p in some cases and 720p most of the time. The gripe I have is at such a high speed, I can’t help feel that the prices are still on the high side as a fast connection turns you to a heavy user.

Edwin Yapp, The Malaysian Insider

Three-five times faster than 3G speeds claimed by YES, while seemingly impressive, means that users are supposed to receive between 4.5Mbps and 7.5Mbps assuming an average download speed of 1.5Mbps experienced currently by 3G users. But according to some who have tried YES, the realistic speeds hover only around 4-6 Mbps.

This is not bad for starters but bear in mind that any wireless service will always suffer from environmental variations such as building clutter, radio wave reflections and even foliage blockages, which will ultimately affect speed and reliability.

Yes 4G appears to have recovered after having such a disastrous start. However, being a new service, there are many caveats as to how long it can keep the pace, and with patchy coverage area it’s doubtful many would want to switch from their regular mobile phones to a VOIP phone that relies on WiMax as their primary communications device.

The cautious approach was shared by market analysts, which “unanimously” remained neutral on the service as it was still too early to determine its impact on the telco sector. Investment bank ECM Libra’s  head analyst, Bernard Ching, said the YTL Corporation’s entry into the telco business would not cause any immediate or irrational increase in competition.