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Maxis, Celcom, Digi & U Mobile to retire 3G Network at the end of 2021

Maxis, Celcom Axiata, Digi and U Mobile announced today that the mobile Telecommunication companies (Telcos) plans to retire their 3G networks at the end of 2021.

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The Telcos, including TIME dotCom and Telekom Malaysia (TM), made a joint industry statement in support of the Jalinan Digital Negara (JENDELA) action plan announced recently by the Prime Minister of Malaysia, YAB Tan Sri Muhyiddin bin Yassin.

JENDELA, to be implemented in phases, is part of the 12th Malaysia Plan (2021–2025), aspiring to accelerate the country’s digital connectivity through widespread deployment of mobile, fibre and fixed wireless access, and paving the way to 5G.

Phase 1 of JENDELA, which starts now until 2022, will optimise existing resources and infrastructure for both mobile and fixed connectivity to:

  • Expand 4G mobile broadband coverage from 91.8% to 96.9% in populated areas;
  • Increase mobile broadband speeds from 25Mbps to 35Mbps; and
  • Enable as many as 7.5 million premises to access gigabit speeds with fixed broadband services.

JENDELA will firstly prioritise strengthening the nation’s existing fixed and mobile networks and building a strong foundation for the eventual adoption of 5G. This will also involve the gradual retirement of 3G networks at the end of 2021. To achieve the targets in Phase 1, the industry said it will look at providing wider coverage and enhanced quality of experience by upgrading and building new 4G LTE sites, and fiberising more premises.

“This will be driven by extending 4G mobile coverage in rural and remote areas, improving in-door coverage for urban and suburban areas, connecting more homes with fixed broadband via fibre and other fit-for-purpose technologies (e.g. Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) and satellite) to ensure widespread nationwide coverage and connectivity for all.”

Meanwhile, fibre providers such as Telekom Malaysia (TM) and TIME dotCom will continue to support the industry with fibre backhaul for capacity to serve higher traffic demands expected on 4G LTE and to ensure the fibre foundation essential for future technologies such as 5G.

Phase 2 (beyond 2022) of JENDELA involves utilising Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) and other fit-for-purpose technologies to address further gaps in the digital divide, as well as priming for the nation’s eventual adoption of 5G technologies; which will take place once action plans under Phase 1 are achieved.

The industry said it will continue to educate the public on the potential of 5G and its capabilities, through use cases applied across verticals such as manufacturing, agriculture, education, healthcare, security transportation, consumer experience, environment and smart city development. These use cases will continue to be explored under the 5G Demonstration Projects (5GDP).

JENDELA is said to be an accelerated improvement plan where all public and private stakeholders are equally invested to deliver. This is driven by the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia (KKMM) and Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) in partnership with the telecommunications operators, and other agencies at the federal, state, and local council levels.

The industry believes that collaboration among all parties is crucial to facilitate infrastructure rollout in a coordinated manner, with minimal impact on civil works, the public, the environment, and all aspects of the ecosystem. “We look forward to working together to fulfil the objectives of JENDELA and enabling widespread quality connectivity for Malaysians nationwide.”

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About Kugan

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