P1 Head Honcho Michael Lai Resigns

michael-lai-CEO p1
michael-lai-CEO p1
Michael Lai, P1 CEO. Image credit: Digital News Asia

This just in. According to PC.com, CEO of Packet One Networks (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd (“P1”), Michael Lai, has resigned, citing personal reasons. Taking over the helm of the 4G operator, is Green Packet Group Founder, CC Puan.

Under Lai’s stewardship, P1 has grown from its humble beginnings as the first Malaysian WIMAX operator in 2008, to serving over 517,000 subscribers across Malaysia today. P1 recently expanded its operations to Sabah.

P1 is set to rollout its 4G LTE network in the second half of this year. P1 has established itself as a leading 4G player in South East Asia and also one of nine Steering Committee Members of Global TD-LTE Initiative (GTI), representing Malaysia and South East Asia. The GTI now has a membership of over 50 operators, with a total of 12 with TD-LTE networks available globally.

P1 has consistently won accolades for its service since its inception including the Red Herring Asia’s Most Innovative Private Technology Company (2008), Frost & Sullivan Malaysia Telecom Awards – Most Promising Service Provider of the Year (2010) and GoMobile – Best Home Broadband award (2012). And who can forget the brilliant “Sudah Potong?” Campaign which won a Gold award at the Malaysia Effie Awards.

“I had the great pleasure to carry out the first part of P1, CC Puan and the Board’s vision to see P1 take its place as one of Malaysia’s leading 4G telco serving converged fixed and wireless broadband, and voice services with next generation technology. I pass the baton now to CC to assume the P1 CEO role. I believe he will be the best person to see P1 through to its ultimate goal,” says Lai.

CC Puan said, “Lai has been a big figure at P1. It will take awhile for us to get used to  not having him here as the face of P1 anymore. I really am grateful for his efforts for all these years.”

The shocking announcement follows the recent departures of senior executives in rival telco, Maxis, as well.

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Just as Steve Jobs was to Apple, Lai has been the friendly, familiar face of P1. The nicest guy in the telco space as I always say, will be certainly be missed, I reckon. I personally wish Michael Lai all the best as he moves on to other endeavours and challenges.

Good luck, Michael. Keep rocking!

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  • Show Comments (11)

  • paul k

    https://www.facebook.com/p1buddy

    all negative comments 🙁 looks like i’ve to choose Maxis

  • KK chan

    I’ve lost faith over P1 wimax. I’m gonna switch back to Unify, Maxis, or Time. They maybe expensive, but stability is almost assured.

    P1 fails as a product ( slow, always disconnected, always down, and still dare to charge people for so expensive cost).

    Another thing is, despite the cancellation of the service for 2 months, I still receive the bill from P1.

    Well you don’t have to trust me, go visit their official facebook page and read thru the comments.

    This company should be doomed.

    • Vernon Chan

      Are you using the Home unit or dongle? I used to use dongles at home too, but now much better off with a fibre connection. I would recommend you go UNIFI/Maxis/TIME, for home purposes.

      BTW, P1 does have an agreement with TM, so there is a fibre bundle too.

      I’ve read the FB page. All I can say is, I’m glad I’m not an admin of the page 😀

  • faith

    My few thoughts about P1:

    1) over-estimated technical capabilities: It is the first company in Malaysia that embraced Wimax technology. Remember in 2002, Wimax is still very new and immature in the industry. Hence, adopting this technology is undoubtedly a very high risk decision for a startup. And now, the emerging of LTE technology will definitely impacting the current Wimax market. It will be another cost to refresh P1 infrastructure if it wants to adopt LTE technology. It will definitely be a hard time for P1.

    2) lost control in Social Media: check out http://www.facebook.com/P1Cares. The page has been flooded with tons of complaints, and it looks like P1 Facebook admin has lost control over it. Social Media is a double sided sword. Use it wisely it will help you, otherwise you will be hurt. It you can’t handle the complaints well, then don’t use the Facebook page.

    3) over-marketing: as mentioned in many comments, P1 marketing campaign is “overly” successful. But the thing is, it continues to push the sales regardless of infrastructure capacity. I think it is unethical and cheating to customers.

    4) Unable to find a balance point between the sales and infrastructure: I think P1 management has failed to coordinate the marketing team and technology team. as a metaphor, if you open a restaurant and hire 2 chefs. you can’t simply just take orders from 100 customers. you have to either hire more chef to serve more customers, or cut down the orders.

    it won’t be surprised to see P1 to close shop one day if they don’t look into the issues.

    • Vernon Chan

      Just to re-butt your points:

      1. P1, since 2011 have been testing TD-LTE. We first previewed this in 2011 – http://vernonchan.com/2011/04/the-power-of-two-p1-to-combine-wimax-lte-technologies/. The demo produced 100Mbps download speeds. P1 is also a strong member of the GTI (Global TD-LTE Initiative). P1 does have a TD-LTE deployment roadmap and is expected to be end of 2013, although no latest announcements have been heard.
      2. I do agree with you on this. And like you said, social media is a double-edged sword. It’s like an open book where anything goes. I do think that it isn’t just P1 that is encountering these social media/customer service related challenges. In fact, most brands do. And yes, if you can’t handle complaints well, then don’t run a Facebook page.

      3. To be fair, it’s all about marketing. It’s actually quite a chicken-and-egg situation, applicable to all telcos. You can’t survive without marketing, and when you ‘over-market’ and your service suffers, you can’t survive over the long run if you don’t improve.

      4. I agree. Balance is key and P1 needs to buck up and improve on this.

      Personally I think they’re in a transitionary period, now with Michael gone as well. They do still have a 500,000 subscriber base, and for their sake, I do hope they get their act together and improve.

      Thanks for your thoughts. Appreciate it!

      • faith

        Thanks Vernon for reply.

        For (1), I understand that P1 has LTE roadmap. But so does Maxis, Digi, and Celcom now (some of them already released LTE). My point is, betting on Wimax turns out to be not so successful. I believe it may cost huge expenses to P1 for converting Wimax station to LTE.

        Anyway, I love to see how P1 manages all these tricky issues. And I love to see the Telco business becoming more competitive. Good for consumers, right 🙂

        • Vernon Chan

          From the looks of it, LTE looks like the way to go. It’s still a very new technology, and worldwide deployment is still lacking as a whole. WIMAX will not die, at least not in the near term. WIMAX 2 will rival LTE in speeds also. Where P1 is headed is still unclear, but the thing here is this – it isn’t an either/or strategy. LTE can run alongside WIMAX, and the switchover is quite transparent as they’ve demonstrated to us in 2011.

          I’m also eager to see how P1 fares in the long run. And yes, good for consumers, indeed!

  • frustrated customer

    p1 wimax is the lousiest 3g+4g in malaysia. go potong yourself

    • Vernon Chan

      I empathize with you. You’re certainly not the only one who feels that way. P1 does need to buckle up in terms of service level and coverage.

      • anonym

        I’ve bad experience with P1 too. For me, P1 looks more like a marketing company than a technology company. I wonder how it won the so called “innovation” award as the only thing that caught my attention is the “potong stim” advertisement

        • Vernon Chan

          I think I’ve been luckier than the both of you. My experience has been above average. It’s still highly dependent on coverage areas though.

          The Potong Stim campaign was highly successful, and I admit it was a really good campaign. So good in fact, that P1 didn’t expect such big success. The network crumbled coz it just couldn’t cope with the user growth so quickly.

          The telco industry is a tough one, all I can say is it will take time for one to improve.

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