Sunday, November 27, 2022
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The State of 5G in Malaysia – My Personal View [July 2022]

Its July 2022 already, more than 6-months since the Malaysian Government proudly announced its 5G network availability in the country. But most people are not using 5G yet.

mcmc 5g malaysia showcase 700mhz 5g

Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB), which is responsible for 5G in Malaysia, has repeatedly failed in its task to make 5G available to all Malaysians. Among these include the failure on its part to get more Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to sign up for its expensive limited-coverage 5G network.

But why would the operators commit hundred millions of ringgit at a fixed 5G price over a 10-year period? Even our 4G mobile data plans gets cheaper every year.

On June 30, the local media reported that six local telcos have agreed to take up the stake in Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB), according to our highly respectable Communications and Multimedia Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa. He said a total of 70% stake in DNB will be spread between these six mobile network operators.

He also shared that everything is according to plan, and issues pertaining to transparency and the pricing involved have all been sorted out.

“Bear with me, it just takes another seven or eight days before an official announcement will be made,” he said on June 30.

But its been seven and eight days now, no announcement were made by this Minister and his Ministry. Maybe its cuti-cuti Malaysia already.

As for “issues pertaining to transparency”, at the time of his announcement (June 30), no commercial agreements have been signed/announced with the top 4 MNOs. Also its highly unlikely the shareholders of these Telcos would quickly approve around RM200 million for a small 12% stake in DNB. Some of these Telcos are public listed companies, which means that they must announce their dealings with DNB, if any, but none so far, at the time of writing.

DNB itself has not issued a new Reference Access Offer (RAO), so what did the six Telcos agreed to? A MOU? A non-binding agreement perhaps?

Maxis, Celcom, Digi and U Mobile have already said that the RAO in its current published form will not enable affordable and quality 5G services for the rakyat. The person who agreed and approved this RAO was Datuk Dr. Fadhlullah Suhaimi Abdul Malek, who is not even with MCMC anymore.

So how was it possible for the respectable Communications Minister to announce that all those operators have agreed to sign up for DNB? They said that this whole thing will be completed end of June 2022. Perhaps the media have wrongly reported this?

Former Axiata president and chief executive officer Datuk Izzaddin Idris said that Celcom will be able to meet the June 30 deadline set by the government. But no announcement from Celcom and Axiata so far in July 2022, at the time of writing.

At the moment, the whole 5G thing is a mess and in my view, only a few parties are responsible for all these issues- Finance Ministry, DNB, Communications and Multimedia Ministry and MCMC.

The MNOs have already said that they could upgrade their own 4G networks to 5G, but the Government does not want to allow this.

Heck, even Telekom Malaysia (TM) could offer 5G for free during the past 6-7 months, and potentially sign up thousands of new 5G customers……but it didn’t do it, why?

The current Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz, who is no communication/5G expert, have said that the Government will be issuing licenses to new 5G players if the current 4G operators don’t sign up. But is he also implying that these “new players” could offer 5G to consumers within weeks/months or in reality these new player would take a few years to launch?

Perhaps Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz should take over the Communications and Multimedia Ministry since the Finance Ministry already controls the 5G network in this country.

But then again, why is the Finance Ministry interfering in matters related to the Communications Industry?

Why is DNB not owned and operated by the Communications and Multimedia Ministry?

The Telecommunication Industry have always been regulated by the MCMC and the Communications and Multimedia Ministry. There’s never been such direct involvement by the Finance Ministry, at this scale, not as far as I remember.

What’s more worrying is this – the Deputy Minister of Communications and Multimedia Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin wants the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to initiate an investigation into DNB.

How much worse can this get?

For now, despite all the controversies, it looks like the major Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) don’t have an option but to sign up for DNB’s 5G (or get left out)….. unless our Government changes overnight.

I have been testing the 5G service past few months now and all I can say that it doesn’t live up to its promises, such as the average 100Mbps speeds. Maybe YTL is the issue? Only time will tell as the rest of the MNOs offer 5G.

Personally, I am extremely disappointed with the current state of the mobile Industry.

This article is a personal opinion. The views/comments/opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not reflect the view of MalaysianWireless.

 

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

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