Malaysia govt to unveil second 5G network next week


Malaysia govt to unveil second 5G network next week

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Malaysia govt to unveil second 5G network next week

The long-awaited second 5G network is expected to be announced soon according to Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil. He also shared that the 5G adoption rate has increased from 12-15% back in November 2023 to 36% as of mid-April 2024.

Malaysia’s 5G adoption rate is now at 36%

Fahmi said, “In just five to six months, we have successfully increased the rate from about 15 per cent to almost 36 per cent now. It is clear that many are reaping the benefits, particularly through the 5G packages available.”

To increase 5G adoption among the youth, Fahmi has also asked the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to hold discussions with telcos to provide 5G packages for undergraduates.

DNB’s 5G coverage merely increased by 0.1% in two months

The current 5G rollout by Digital Nasional Berhad appears to have slowed down after achieving its expedited 5G deployment target last year. Fahmi declared that DNB achieved 80.2% 5G population coverage by 31st December 2023.

The Communications Minister recently shared that DNB’s 5G coverage stood at 80.3% as of February 2024. That’s just a mere 0.1% increase in two months and there’s still a lack of indoor building coverage especially in the Klang Valley.

Second 5G Network to bring significant improvement in coverage and adoption rates

Malaysia's 5G Dual Network Model
Transition from Single Wholesale Network to Dual Network

Fahmi also said that the government is expected to unveil the second 5G network next week. He added that a second network will bring significant improvement in both service coverage and adoption rate.

The Dual 5G network approach was announced by Fahmi almost exactly a year ago and the transition was supposed to start in January 2024 after DNB achieved 80% 5G population coverage by the end of last year. As announced by his ministry, the second network (Entity B) was expected to begin building the second 5G network as early as January 2024.

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After months of delays, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim recently assured that the DNB issues would be settled soon. This comes after Channel News Asia published a report alleging a stalemate between the telcos and DNB due to transparency concerns.

DNB has since refuted the CNA report and insisted that all contracts were awarded transparently.

A few days later, DNB announced the appointment of new directors from 5 telcos (CelcomDigi, Maxis, U Mobile, TM and YTL) to their board. With the telcos onboard, a meeting is expected to be convened soon to review the due diligence findings into DNB to complete the equity deal.

Big questions for the second 5G network

Left: Gobind Singh, Right: Fahmi Fadzil.
Left: Gobind Singh, Right: Fahmi Fadzil. Source: Anwar Ibrahim

The announcement of a second 5G network comes as a surprise as the ongoing Share Subscription Agreement for telcos to take a 70% stake in DNB has yet to be concluded. The due diligence process for the equity deal is still ongoing and there’s no clear timeline of when it will be completed.

Digital Minister Gobind Singh, who also oversees DNB, has indicated that the participation of telcos in DNB is required before a second 5G network can be rolled out. According to Gobind, it is the Government’s aspiration as per the policy announcement, that the SSAs which are an integral process of the first phase, will enable the participation of all the telcos in DNB as shareholders, before the eventual shift to the Dual 5G network. The Digital Minister also iterated that Malaysia remains committed to implementing the Dual 5G Network model as announced by the government last year.

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So far there are no details on the formation of the second 5G network and its requirements. Will there be a bidding or tender process? What happens to the existing 700MHz and 3.5GHz spectrum held by DNB? Which telco will be involved in the second 5G network?


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