SIRIM has recently announced that it will no longer certify devices that work solely on the 3G network starting from 1 January 2021. This following the Malaysian government’s decision to shut down 3G network by the end of 2021 as part of the Jalinan Digital Negara (JENDELA) implementation.
Interesting enough, SIRIM will also stop certifying 4G devices that have the ability to perform phone calls but do not support Voice Over LTE (VoLTE) feature. That being said, SIRIM may consider approving 3G only and VoLTE-less 4G devices that are imported to Malaysia for the sole purpose of after-sales services on a case by case basis until 31 December 2021.
The main idea behind the sunsetting of the 3G network is so that the spectrum currently utilised by the network can be reused for 4G. According to the JENDELA report by MCMC [pdf], thousands of base 2G or 3G base stations will be upgraded to 4G as well.
Through these implementations, the government aims to increase the average speed of the mobile broadband network in Malaysia from 25Mbps to 35Mbps by 2022.
However, we reckon that this move may cause a headache to some equipment suppliers and operators that may rely heavily on the 3G network such as payment terminals, fleet tracker, smart meter, and more.
On the consumer side, this could mean the end of the road for many feature phones out there. While more and more of such phones have begun to support 4G, there is still a question on whether they can also support VoLTE as required by our new regulations.