Malaysia to review decision on single wholesale 5G network

Malaysia Cabinet will review its decision for a single wholesale 5G network, after concern from mobile carriers over pricing and transparency.
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The likely revision in the decision by the Malaysia government follows resistance from major operators for Malaysia’s proposed centralised 5G network. Major mobile operators in Malaysia including Axiata Celcom, Maxis and are yet to sign up with the government.

The Cabinet will be considering whether to allow multiple 5G providers, after concern from telecom firms and industry players that the government plan could hamper competition, Communications and Multimedia Minister Annuar Musa told reporters on Tuesday.

“The Cabinet will discuss again and will make a final decision by January whether to stick with a single wholesale network system or to have more than one operator to allow for some kind of competition,” he said.

Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB), the state-owned agency tasked with building and managing 5G network infrastructure, will proceed with an initial rollout this month, Annuar said.

Jim Lim, an analyst covering telecoms at Kuala Lumpur-based Kenanga Research, said the government discussion indicated progress in talks between operators and DNB, and authorities’ willingness to compromise on carriers’ demands.

The government in February abandoned an earlier plan to offer spectrum to carriers, opting instead for a single shared 5G network in a bid to reduce costs, improve efficiency and accelerate infrastructure buildup.

Carriers, however, are worried that would result in a nationalised monopoly more costly than deploying 5G on their own, Reuters reported.

DNB has said it will charge operators less to access its 5G network than the cost they incurred for 4G.

The agency on Monday also offered 5G services to carriers for free up to March 31 as it begins network deployment in three central areas.

Last week, Telekom Malaysia became the first operator to sign up for 5G trials with DNB, but did not say if it had signed a long-term deal.