The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has released its Final Report on the allocation of spectrum bands for mobile broadband service, including 5G in Malaysia.
MCMC has identified the 700MHz, 3.5GHz and 26/28GHz as the pioneer spectrum bands for the roll-out of Malaysia 5G, in light of the rapid development of the global 5G ecosystem and deployment.
The 700MHz and 3.5GHz bands are being considered for allocation to a single entity comprising a consortium formed by multiple licensees, instead of individual licensees. Currently there are 6 active mobile Telcos in Malaysia, namely Maxis, Celcom Axiata, Digi, U Mobile, Telekom Malaysia (webe), YTL (Yes4G). MCMC said it will undertake a tender process for this purpose as this approach is intended to lower the capital expenditure (CAPEX) by minimising costs and prevent the duplication of infrastructure, at a time where improvements in 4G LTE networks are continuing.
As this is a new approach, MCMC will only make available 2x30MHz of the 700MHz band and 100MHz of the 3.5GHz band. The remaining frequencies of these bands will be considered for assignment at a later stage, it said.
The assignment of the 26/28GHz bands will be conducted in two methods. The 24.9GHz to 26.5GHz frequency bands will be assigned through a tender process (beauty contest) to licensees on a nationwide basis. The 26.5GHz to 28.1GHz frequency bands will be assigned on a first-come first-served basis and will be open to any party (including non-licensees) for the purpose of deploying localised and/or private networks. MCMC said that any party that has successfully been assigned with the frequency range of 24.9GHz to 26.5GHz, following the tender exercise, will not be eligible to apply for the remaining frequency range of 26.5GHz to 28.1GHz.
The 26/28GHz bands support large bandwidths and high data rates, which are ideal for increasing the capacity of wireless networks. 3.5GHz band contributes a critical portion of the spectrum for mobile broadband, offering a balance between the wide coverage of lower frequencies and high capacity of the millimetre-wave spectrum, the regulator said.
The assignment for the above mentioned spectrum bands will be made by way of apparatus assignment (AA). MCMC anticipates that the appropriate spectrum fee through AA is more economical, and will encourage network deployment by the service provider. Cost savings can be passed on to businesses and consumers to ensure better value of affordable services, it claims.
Once the assignment processes are completed, MCMC expects commercial deployment of Malaysia 5G networks to begin by the third quarter (Q3) of 2020.
The existing allocation for deployment of current 4G technology will be maintained, according to MCMC. This includes maintaining the existing allocation of the 2300MHz and 2600MHz bands until December 2021. To date, 3 companies which has spectrum in the 2300MHz and 2600MHz bands does not have any commercial mobile network despite obtaining right to these spectrum a couple years ago. The 3 companies are Redtone, Altel (Puncak Semangat), AsiaSpace. With the latest announcement, these 3 companies will be able to retain their spectrum until 2021.