Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB) yesterday announced that it has successfully integrated the company’s 5G network infrastructure with the core networks of the country’s five major telcos. Done through an infrastructure sharing model known as the multi-operator core network (MOCN), DNB said that this integration is the first of its kind in the world.
While there are quite a number of 5G MOCN integrations throughout the world, they usually involved only two operators according to David Hägerbro, the Head of Ericsson Malaysia, Sri Lanka & Bangladesh. Back in July, the Swedish company has been tasked to help DNB deploy 5G throughout Malaysia to the tune of RM 11 billion.
DNB’s CEO, Ralph Marshall said the company’s 5G network is currently able to support up to six networks while it is possible to push the limit even further up with to 12 networks next year. DNB did not provide further details regarding its 5G MOCN integration but based on the tweets by the Minister of Communications and Multimedia Annuar Musa, the demo site is apparently located in Titiwangsa.
According to the images tweeted by the minister, the DNB’s 5G MOCN site covers Celcom, Digi, Maxis, TM, and U Mobile. The location is also apparently able to deliver a download speed of slightly above 1Gbps.
While yesterday’s announcement can be deemed as a positive technical milestone for DNB, the MoF’s SPV seems to be facing some challenges on the business side of things. According to a report by Reuters, none of the major telcos has actually signed a commercial deal with DNB.
This is something that has been confirmed by DNB itself although the company did point out in a statement to Malay Mail that it can only sort out those commercial deals after its Reference Access Offer (RAO) is published to the public. The RAO which covered matters such as access pricing and service terms are expected to be completed by the end of this month.
In a separate statement to The Edge Markets, DNB’s CCO Ahmad Taufek Omar said that the company is to secure long-term commercial agreements with telcos in early 2022. Despite that, DNB is still confident that it will be able to deliver a live 5G network involving 500 sites before the year ends.
Reuters’ anonymous industry sources claimed that telcos could end up paying more than they should for 5G deployment if they agree to DNB’s proposed pricing plan. This claim has generally been brushed off by DNB’s COO Dushyan Vaithiyanathan who told the news agency that the deployment cost is around RM16.5 billion while the telcos could be facing up to RM 35 billion if they do it themselves.