5G testbeds extended nationwide with demonstrations starting in October

The testbeds will be widened to include Selangor, Perak, Terengganu, KL and Kedah

by NG MIN SHEN/ pic by  RAZAK GHAZALI

MALAYSIA’S 5G testbeds have been extended from Putrajaya and Cyberjaya to the rest of the country, with nationwide 5G demonstration projects to begin next month, said Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo (picture).

“It is hoped that Malaysia’s early commitment to 5G — to rapidly deploying 5G testbeds and nationwide demonstration projects — will position the country as one of the leaders of 5G adoption in the world,” he said in his keynote address at the GSMA Mobile 360 — Digital Societies Conference in Kuala Lumpur (KL) yesterday.

The 5G service network testbeds were first implemented in Putrajaya and Cyberjaya in April this year. In July, Gobind said the testbeds would be widened to include Selangor, Perak, Terengganu, KL and Kedah.

Deploying 5G is important as the technology possesses speeds far surpassing that of 4G LTE, thus paving the way for Malaysia to venture into high value-added industries such as smart manufacturing and aerospace that would ensure a strong and competitive economy.

Improving connectivity would also boost the country’s GDP, Gobind said, citing a 2012 Deloitte LLP report that said doubling mobile data use has boosted GDP per capita by half a percentage point.

“In a study by the World Bank, it was concluded that a 10% increase in fixed broadband penetration would increase GDP growth by 1.21% in developed economies and 1.38% in developing ones. For Malaysia, such an increase would mean an additional RM20 billion based on the country’s GDP for 2018,” he added.

Aiding the implementation of 5G in Malaysia is the National Fiberisation and Connectivity Plan (NFCP), a government-driven RM21.6 billion initiative that aims to transform the country into a digital nation.

The NFCP, which will run from 2019 to 2023, plans to reduce the digital divide by deploying multiple technologies including fibre networks, wireless networks and satellite.

The minister also clarified that there will be no contracts given to specific companies under the NFCP, amid recent speculation that fibre optic cable manufacturer Opcom Holdings Bhd could be a major beneficiary of the initiative.

“It is not the case that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) or the government is going to give projects or contracts to anyone. It will be the telecommunications companies who will decide who they want to employ or appoint in respect of what they need to carry out their part of any activity in respect to the NFCP,” he told reporters after the conference.

His sentiments echoed the MCMC’s statement earlier this month, which said neither the government nor the MCMC would select the technology providers for the infrastructure projects under the NFCP, hence it was “incorrect to name Opcom as the biggest beneficiary of the NFCP”.

Meanwhile, GSM Association (GSMA) forecasts 20% of total mobile connections in Malaysia to be on 5G by 2025, beating the estimated 17% average for Asia Pacific.

South Korea leads the pack with 67% of total connections expected to be on 5G by 2025, followed by Australia (54%), Japan (49%) and Singapore (36%), GSMA said in its latest report entitled “Collaborative platforms for digital societies in Asia Pacific”.

Malaysia, despite its average ranking of fifth or sixth place, is making good progress in its connectivity efforts, GSMA head of Asia Pacific Julian Gorman said.

The MCMC has set 2021 as the target year for 5G implementation, although Maxis Bhd and Digi.Com Bhd said at the conference earlier that no specific date has been earmarked for 5G rollouts.

“With the (5G Task Force) report due in September and the launch of more 5G test trials, I think that’s a very promising step in reaching that achievement of launch — it’s quite feasible, because those test locations will expose more people to what 5G is and what it can do,” Gorman said.