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Malaysia 5G : Digital Nasional has no Commercial Partnership with Telcos yet

Malaysia’s Government-owned 5G network wholesaler, Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB) said it has not yet begun commercial negotiations with the country’s mobile carriers, according to media reports.

gsa 5g gigabit network

However, the latest statement from Digital National appears to be confusing.

In August 2021, Dato’ Izzaddin Idris, President & Group Chief Executive Officer of Axiata told MalaysianWireless that “discussion involving the commercial terms are ongoing between Celcom and Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB),” adding that Celcom was not allowed to build its own 5G network. MalaysianWireless learned that DNB is currently in discussion with 6 access seekers and talks have been on-going over the past few months.

But DNB said in a statement yesterday that talks to settle commercial terms were yet to start with any mobile network operators. It said it was in talks with the carriers on a “reference access offer” (RAO) – a public document that will cover the details of its 5G wholesale model, including pricing and service commitments.

“DNB will begin commercial negotiations with the telcos (after finalising the ROA). Hence, we will only be able to sign up the telcos after the publication of the RAO.

“It is thus clear that DNB has not sought any sign-up and neither expects the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to sign anything until after the RAO is published,” reported Bernama.

DNB had told Reuters it still hoped to deploy 5G services with some operators on board in three urban centres next month, with long-term agreements to be signed in early 2022. DNB is expected to set up 500 5G sites across Putrajaya, Cyberjaya and Kuala Lumpur for the commercial Malaysia 5G launch in December 2021.

Yesterday, Reuters reported that none of Malaysia’s major mobile carriers have agreed to use the government’s 5G network yet due to transparency and pricing issues. The International news agency said DNB confirmed that no agreement with carriers has been reached and acknowledged its initial timeline for negotiations had been “too optimistic”.

“The target now is to have a live network, covering… a total of 500 sites by the end of December, with at least some operators on board to provide a 5G network to end-users,” Chief Technology Officer Ken Tan said. DNB did not say what would happen if no operators agreed to be part of the deployment.

On Wednesday, Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB) successfully completed a 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) trial integration with 5 mobile network operators in the country, claimed to be a world’s first.

[link] – EXCLUSIVE No takers for Malaysia’s 5G plan as major telcos balk over pricing, transparency – Reuters (PDF)
[link] – Malaysia’s state 5G agency says it has not begun commercial talks with telcos – Reuters (PDF)
[link] – DNB: 5G network discussions still ongoing, no sign-ups so far as RAO yet to be published – Bernama via Thestar (PDF)

About Kugan

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