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Telekom Malaysia can’t provide an actual date for Unifi Mobile 5G – Comment

Telekom Malaysia (TM) recently made a statement that it has yet to decide on an actual date for its Unifi Mobile 5G service following news of its availability that was set to take place in February 2022.

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On 15 January 2022, it was reported that Telekom Malaysia posted on its website that its Unifi Mobile 5G services will be available starting February 2022. However the Telco then took a U-turn and said “we are currently doing extensive internal testing on our 5G service. At this point of time, we are unable to provide the actual date for customer trials.” -[PDF]

The largest fixed broadband company in the country has shown a lot of interest on 5G over the past few years but it has yet to decide on a launch date for its 5G services, despite getting free access to the 5G network over 1 month ago.

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Picture from 2019 – TM as “Penyedia Infrastruktur 5G Negara” in collaboration with Ministry of Communications and Multimedia (KKMM), Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and Majlis Perbandaran Subang Jaya (MPSJ).

The 5G network in Malaysia is exclusively owned and controlled by Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB), a Government owned company, via the Ministry of Finance (MOF). DNB, which has taken a loan to launch its 5G network on 15 December 2021, is currently offering free access to the network until end of March 2022, available to all Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in Malaysia.

So far YTL Communication (Yes) and Telekom Malaysia (TM) have signed up with DNB but only Yes made available the service to consumers. The latest statement from Telekom Malaysia did not say if the delay of its 5G availability was due to technical reasons or something else.

In December 2021, Telekom Malaysia has said that it will be conducting 5G trials with DNB to optimise the services. “During this pilot trial, unifi mobile postpaid customers with certified 5G devices will be able to experience 5G services in selected areas within Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Cyberjaya,” it said in a statement.

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While it is not clear on why Telekom Malaysia has yet to make available the free 5G service to its customers right now, the Telco was quick to provide Fibre Leasing Service to DNB’s 5G network in December 2021 (picture), a deal with a total contract value of RM2 billion over 10 years.

The future of 5G in Malaysia remains uncertain.

The limited time free access to the 5G network by DNB was not enough to convince the top 4 MNOs in Malaysia to offer the 5G services to consumers. The top 4 MNOs in Malaysia in terms of subscriber base are Maxis, Celcom Axiata, Digi and U Mobile.

Apart from these, DNB has yet to announce any long term commercial agreement with any MNOs in the country. YTL Communication, the sole 5G service provider to consumers, did not say if it will continue to offer the 5G services beyond March 2022.

Currently, there are also a number of issues with the Malaysia 5G network including but not limited to poor coverage, limited 5G device compatibility (not available on Samsung and iPhones) and inconsistent network experience. Some network speedtest by consumers have shown download speeds close to 50Mbps despite an average speed of 100Mbps was promised to consumers.

It was previously reported that the decision for DNB as the sole provider of 5G network was not final. The Malaysia-Government was considering whether to allow multiple 5G providers, after concern from telecom firms and industry players that the government plan could hamper competition, the Communications and Multimedia Minister said.

“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.

Disclaimer: This is a commentary. Please refer to the respective parties/Telcos for official information.

About Kugan

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