Local telcos are already in the midst of 5G technical testing in preparation for the rollout that is expected to take place next. This is based on the remark made by the Chief Operating Officer of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, Mohd Ali Hanafiah Mohd Yunus.
In an interview with Bernama, Ali stated that the telcos are currently in Stage 4 of their 5G technical test. While he didn’t provide specific details regarding these test stages, the COO said that the final stage will cover telco packages among other things.
Ali added that the regulator is taking this as a positive development and it is highly likely that more telcos will begin to offer 5G starting this September. As you might be aware, the only local that has rolled out 5G services to the mass market is YTL Communications via its Yes 5G plans.
From a technical and technology standpoint, we have no doubt that Malaysian telcos are ready to provide 5G services to the market. In general, they have been testing the new cellular technology for the past few years and we have even seen some of them in action several times since as early as 2017, whether through speed test demonstrations or large-scale showcase and pilot projects involving multiple telcos.
As always, the devil is in the details. In general, the delay of 5G deployment in Malaysia which was supposed to take place back in Q3 2020, can be pinpointed to the slow commercialization process that has been hampered by several major changes including the government itself in March 2020.
Almost one year later, the Prime Minister at that time, Muhyiddin Yassin announced that 5G would be available in Malaysia by the end of 2021 and the deployment is being done by a government-owned special purpose vehicle which was eventually called the Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB). Under the Single Wholesale Network (SWN) model, the government promised that all licenced telcos in Malaysia would be given equal access to the country’s 5G infrastructure.
While some telcos such as TM and YTL Communications were immediately onboard, the Big 4 including Celcom, Digi, Maxis, and U Mobile were quite hesitant to support the SWN-based rollout. Instead, they have expressed their preferences for Dual Wholesale Network but the government firmly held its ground and managed to eventually bring them into the agreement is expected to be fully finalized tomorrow.