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Altel & Telekom Malaysia quietly awarded the 700Mhz Band, Ordered by the Minister

Altel and Telekom Malaysia are among 5 Telecommunication companies that have been quietly awarded the 700Mhz band. The spectrum assignment was ordered by Dato’ Saifuddin bin Abdullah, one of his first major decision as the new Minister of Communications and Multimedia.

Dato’ Saifuddin takes over from Yang Berhormat Gobind Singh Deo, who played a significant role in bringing down fibre and Streamyx broadband prices for consumers in the country.

altel-sim-card

The “order” from Dato’ Saifuddin was dated 15 May 2020, during the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) period, at a time where many Malaysians are currently working from home for the past 2-3 months. It was posted on the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) website but buried deep inside its webpages, under the “Legal” section. No announcement was made to the media at the time of writing.

As per the Minister’s discretion, 5 Telcos have been awarded the 700Mhz band (total 80Mhz) in Malaysia:

  • Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd: 703 MHz to 713 MHz paired with 758 MHz to 768 MHz (20Mhz)
  • Altel Communications Sdn Bhd: 713 MHz to 718 MHz paired with 768 MHz to 773 MHz (10Mhz)
  • Telekom Malaysia Berhad: 718 MHz to 723 MHz paired with 773 MHz to 778 MHz (10Mhz)
  • Celcom Axiata Berhad: 723 MHz to 733 MHz paired with 778 MHz to 788 MHz (20Mhz)
  • Maxis Broadband Sdn Bhd: 733 MHz to 743 MHz paired with 788 MHz to 798 MHz (20Mhz)

U Mobile, which is one of the top 4 major mobile operator in Malaysia, in terms of subscribers, was not awarded the much needed 700Mhz band for it to expand network coverage. The other major mobile Telcos are Maxis, Celcom Axiata and Digi.

Editor’s Note: Altel, a subsidiary of Puncak Semangat, was awarded the most spectrum in the 2.6Ghz band to deploy 4G LTE services by MCMC in late 2012. However, in the past 7 years, Altel did not build its own 4G network, instead it “leased” the spectrum to Celcom Axiata and Digi.

Apart from these, the Minister also issued an order for a 10Mhz spectrum in the 900Mhz to be awarded to Altel. Dated 15 May 2020 in Bahasa Malaysia, the Minister ordered, “Tertakluk kepada peruntukan dalam Akta dan perundangan subsidiari yang relevan di bawahnya, Suruhanjaya diarahkan untuk melaksanakan penguntukan spektrum melalui hak keutamaan di bawah seksyen 174 Akta kepada Altel Communications Sdn Bhd (No. Syarikat: 201201010379) di dalam jalur frekuensi 880 MHz hingga 885 MHz berpasangan dengan 925 MHz hingga 930 MHz.

Early this year, MCMC identified the 700MHz, 3.5GHz and 26/28GHz as the pioneer spectrum bands for the roll-out of 5G in Malaysia. Currently there are 6 active mobile Telcos in Malaysia, namely Maxis, Celcom Axiata, Digi, U Mobile, Telekom Malaysia (unifi mobile) and YTL Communications (Yes 4G).

For the spectrum assignment of 700Mhz and 3.5Ghz, MCMC have previously 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. However, it is unknown if a Tender Process took place.

The copy of the “Order” from the Minister can be downloaded below.

[PDF]– 700Mhz Band Assignment in Malaysia, as instructed by the Minister of Communications and Multimedia
[PDF]– 900Mhz Band Assignment for Altel, as instructed by the Minister of Communications and Multimedia

UPDATE: Award of 700Mhz Band Assignment to Telcos for Malaysia 5G Cancelled- link

About Kugan

Kugan is the founder of MalaysianWireless. He has been observing the mobile industry since 2003. Connect with him on Twitter: @scamboy