KUALA LUMPUR: U Mobile Sdn Bhd will spend RM4 billion over the next five years to roll out additional 5,000 sites for its high-speed 3G and 4G long-term evolution (LTE) mobile internet coverage across the country. “We will spend about RM700 million to RM800 million a year for the network expansion, which will come up to RM3.5 billion to RM4 billion over the next five years,” its chief technology officer Too Tian Jen told reporters after announcing its expansion plans for the next five years here yesterday. Too said the rollout will involve 60% 3G and 40% 4G LTE sites, which is targeted to be completed by end of 2020. At present, U Mobile has over 12,000 sites in operation across the country. Meanwhile, its chief marketing officer Jasmine Lee said the expansion plan is part of U Mobile’s strategy to maintain its leadership and improve its network quality available, noting that it has 10% market share in Malaysia currently. Lee said once the expansion of its network is completed, its market share is expected to be on par with those of the leading telecommunications players in the market. She said, to date, the telecommunication provider has over four million subscribers, consisting of 10% postpaid users and 90% prepaid. Too said U Mobile recently completed the addition of 1,000 new 4G LTE sites, which are located across Klang Valley, Putrajaya, Seremban, Port Dickson and Johor Baru. “With the addition, U Mobile’s customers will enjoy uninterrupted high-speed connectivity with data speeds up to 75Mbps (Megabits per second) at more locations than ever before,” he said, adding that it is on track to complete phase one of its additional 1,000 3G sites, by the end of this year. Commenting on the development of pre-5G and implementation of 5G mobile network technologies locally, Too said he expects to roll out pre-5G network by 2018 and 5G by 2021. Pre-5G is an intermediate level between 4G and 5G with the potential to offer speeds up to 10 times faster as compared with a 4G LTE network. “We are involved in the testing already,” Too said. Last August, U Mobile sealed a partnership with ZTE Corp to develop the 5G network, making it the country’s first telco to enter the phase of 5G network development. Through the agreement, U Mobile is seeking to fulfil the implementation of pre-5G connectivity and to lead the market on the adoption of 5G technologies that are able to provide ultra-fast connection speed and higher network capacity for consumer demands. “U Mobile is a data-centric telco. 70% of our customers are smartphone users, hence we want them to have the best internet and data experience in terms of speed and quality,” Too said.