The decision to appoint Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB) as the sole 5G network provider in Malaysia was made by the Ministry of Finance (MOF), and not discussed with the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia (KKMM), the Dewan Rakyat was told today.
According to media reports, Deputy communications and multimedia minister Zahidi Zainul Abidin has pointed fingers at the finance ministry over the controversial appointment of DNB to manage the country’s 5G network.
He said the finance ministry had not discussed the appointment of DNB with them. Instead, he said, the ministry had just called to tell them that DNB had been given the approval for the 5G rollout.
“They called us and said it will be given to DNB,” he told Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh (PH-Ledang).
He said his ministry had a meeting with DNB to ask about the specifics as “when we give it to DNB, they will sell it to telcos. The prices are doubled but DNB gave us an assurance that their prices will be cheaper than 4G.”
“That was their guarantee. We accepted this. We had to agree,” he said.
Hearing this Sim Tze Tzin (PH-Bayan Baru) asked why the communications ministry did not communicate with the finance ministry on the matter.
Zahidi said that they could only call DNB to discuss their services as the finance ministry had already “accepted them”.
He said they were told to cooperate with Telekom Malaysia which has the backbone and the infrastructure as “DNB does not have anything.”
Fahmi Fadzil (PH-Lembah Pantai) asked why DNB was given the rollout “if they do not have anything? How did they get it (contract)”.
Zahidi replied: “That, you will ask the finance ministry.”
“If you ask us about investments, we don’t do investments because it is under Miti, our work is on communications but the finance ministry wants to look into telecommunications work. So we let them do it.”
He said his ministry would work with the finance ministry on the matter.
However, Zahidi said if the government wanted to speed up the network, individual telcos could run the project .
“They have the backbone. But when DNB wanted to do it, the excuse was that the 4G network which is being carried out by telcos was not ready yet .”
He said his ministry accepted the explanation “because they want to control the 5G network.”
It is not clear who Zahidi meant when he said “they”.
Just two days ago, it was revealed that the decision for DNB as the sole provider of 5G network was not final. The Cabinet was now considering whether to allow multiple 5G providers, after concern from telecom firms and industry players that the government plan could hamper competition, Communications and Multimedia Minister Annuar Musa told reporters on Tuesday.
“The Cabinet will discuss again and will make a final decision by January whether to stick with a single wholesale network (SWN) system or to have more than one operator to allow for some kind of competition,” he said.
However, the KKMM Minister said as for now, Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB) will continue with its plan of delivering 5G services via SWN.