Malaysian telecoms pick up stakes in state-run DNB for 5G access

The Malaysian government announced a significant step forward in the country’s 5G network rollout plans as major telecommunications firms have agreed to take up stakes in Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB), the state 5G agency. The firms involved in the agreement are CelcomDigi, Maxis, Telekom Malaysia, U Mobile, and YTL Communications.
5G in Malaysia telecom market forecast
The above chart prepared by research firm GlobalData indicates the growth of 5G user base in Malaysia between 2022 and 2027.

The agreement between the government and the telecom operators includes equity participation and access to 5G infrastructure. This development comes after prolonged negotiations between the mobile operators and the government over the past months.

Initially, in 2021, Malaysia had planned for state-owned DNB to possess the full 5G spectrum, and the carriers would use this infrastructure to deliver mobile services. However, this proposal raised concerns within the industry, particularly regarding pricing, transparency, and potential monopolistic practices.

To address these concerns, mobile operators agreed in October of the previous year to take up 70% of DNB’s stake, aiming to resolve the deadlock. However, the deal was put on hold when Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s administration, which came into power after the November elections, announced a review of the government’s 5G plans.

In May of this year, the government revealed its intention to permit a second 5G operator once DNB’s coverage extends to 80 percent of populated areas.

The recent announcement by the communications ministry indicates that the telecom firms are now committed to completing the shareholding process in DNB. However, specific details about the distribution of equity or the value of the deal have not been disclosed.

Previously, Maxis was the final major carrier to sign an agreement to access DNB’s network, joining other carriers that had already done so last year. This progress paves the way for the rollout of 5G services to Malaysian customers.

With this latest development, Malaysia’s 5G network deployment is expected to gain momentum, enabling enhanced connectivity and technological advancements across various sectors in the country.