Are Malaysian operators warming to the idea of a single 5G network?

Are Malaysian operators warming to the idea of a single 5G network?

Following a joint statement earlier this week from four Malaysian operators – Celcom Axiata, Digi, Maxis and U Mobile – that they welcomed the government’s planned single wholesale network and the opportunity to invest in the state 5G agency Digital Nasional Berhad, the four firms have said they are now planning to explore the government's offer of an equity stake in DNB.

As we have reported, the planned single shared 5G network is to be run by DNB. The multiple privately owned networks concept was rejected last year and operator requests to government to consider a second network were unsuccessful.

In a move that may partly have addressed operator uncertainties about competition and costs, the government last week offered operators an equity stake of up to 70% in DNB.

However, as Light Reading pointed out earlier this week, this did not explain how or when the government planned to sell off its DNB stake, how the stake would be priced or what role the four companies would play in DNB’s operations.

It's little surprise then that, according to Reuters, the operators have said they have asked the government for further details and have told the government they will wait to finalise the shareholding structure before signing an agreement. They have also asked DNB not to make any major deals or hires during the negotiation process.

This is nevertheless progress for the government, building on an operator statement earlier this week that said: "We believe that a successful 5G deployment for Malaysia will be built on the principles of transparency, sustainability and security”.

DNB was set up by the Finance Ministry and is funded primarily through commercial loans. It aims to provide 5G coverage for 80% of the main population areas by 2024.

In September last year, a 10-year 5G partnership was announced between Ericsson and DNB to drive the nationwide deployment of next-generation wireless cellular technology in Malaysia.

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