Malaysia 5G network rollout on track despite concerns

Malaysia 5G network
Image by jamesteoh | Bigstockphoto

Malaysia is moving ahead with its 5G mobile network despite continued concerns over its contracts and speed of deployment, according to Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil.

Bloomberg reports that in an interview Tuesday with local radio station BFM 89.9, the minister said that Malaysia expects “some kind of finality” in its review of the contracts by this quarter. This came as the government held a meeting on Tuesday with state-run Digital Nasional Bhd., which owns the network, to discuss its concerns.

The 5G network rollout, formed in 2021 by the previous administration, is being spearheaded entirely by Digital Nasional Bhd. and managed for 11 billion ringgit ($2.5 billion) by the local unit of Swedish telecom major Ericsson AB.

“I believe it might be early right now to say when the Cabinet will come to a decision, but I expect, perhaps within this quarter, we will have some kind of finality. Hopefully. Because any further delays will perhaps, you know, we’re not sure what kind of effect or impact it would have,” Fahmi said.

Malaysia 5G network

Crucial time for Malaysia

The minister’s comments come at a crucial time for Malaysia, with 5G technology set to revolutionize businesses and citizens’ way of life.

Late last year, five local telcos – Maxis Bhd., Celcom Axiata Bhd., Digi.Com Bhd., U Mobile Sdn Bhd. and Telekom Malaysia Bhd. – agreed to take part in the network rollout and have since been working with the government to ensure the proper infrastructure is in place. In 2021, the plans had repeatedly been set back amid an impasse between the government and major carriers over pricing.

5G is crucial to the future

The rollout is seen as one way for Malaysia to stay competitive in an increasingly digital world, as the high-speed network promises to open new opportunities for various sectors. The government is looking to ensure that the contracts are up to scratch and that the network is being deployed quickly and efficiently.

Across the ASEAN region, many countries have already begun their 5G rollouts, and Malaysia is among the late adopters. Bloomberg referred to a report by Opensignal that showed that in terms of average mobile download speeds, Malaysia trails Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia.

Political instability in the past has prevented Malaysia from taking full advantage of 5G networking, but it looks set to make up for lost ground with its current plans. According to Bloomberg, this week, DNB announced that Malaysia’s 5G network is well ahead of schedule. With over 3,900 active sites already established in populated areas, coverage has achieved nearly 50% by the end of 2022 – exceeding its intended target of 40%. Fahmi acknowledges it will take two weeks for these figures to be verified through the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission.

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