Some 55 5G demos worth RM116m to go live in October across 6 states

Among the use cases to be conducted are smart traffic lights, smart parking, remote diagnosis, vehicle tracking and 5G 360 degrees panoramic live video surveillance

by NG MIN SHEN/ pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

MALAYSIA’S 5G demonstration projects will go live beginning this month with 55 use cases to be rolled out across six states at an initial investment cost of RM116 million from eight companies.

Thirty-two 5G sites across Kedah, Perak, Penang, Selangor, Terengganu and Kuala Lumpur will go live for six months, with the 55 use cases spanning the agriculture, education, entertainment/media, digital healthcare, manufacturing and processing, oil and gas (O&G), smart city, smart transportation and tourism “verticals”.

“The 5G demonstration projects will focus on facilitating and cultivating the development of a holistic and inclusive 5G ecosystem in the country in pursuit of stimulating the demand, as well as adoption of 5G technology for both businesses and consumers alike.

“We hope to commercialise some of the use cases beginning third-quarter of 2020,” Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) chairman Al-Ishsal Ishak (picture) said at a media briefing in Cyberjaya, Selangor yesterday.

The state governments of the six states involved have given their support and commitment to the projects, while the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Housing and Local Government, Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Water, Land and Natural Resources will also be participating.

Industry partners undertaking the demonstration projects include Altel Communication Sdn Bhd, Celcom Axiata Bhd, DiGi.Com Bhd, edotco Group Sdn Bhd, Maxis Broadband Sdn Bhd, Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas), Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) and U Mobile Sdn Bhd.

Among the use cases to be conducted are smart traffic lights, smart parking, remote diagnosis, medical tourism, remote medical consultation, smart agriculture, augmented reality for education, vehicle tracking and 5G 360 degrees panoramic live video surveillance.

Eighty-three use cases were proposed in response to the MCMC’s invitation for 5G demonstration project proposals issued in July this year, of which 28 cases were proposed by the government and 55 were proposed by industry players.

Under the agriculture vertical, Maxis Broadband and TM will be undertaking smart agriculture use cases in Langkawi, Kedah.

Selangor and Langkawi will be home to digital healthcare use cases conducted by Digi and U Mobile, education projects owned by Digi and Maxis Broadband, entertainment/media trials owned by Altel, Digi and TM, and smart city projects implemented by Altel, Celcom, Digi, edotco, Maxis Broadband, TM and U Mobile.

Altel will conduct 5G use cases in Perak under the manufacturing and process industries vertical, while Terengganu will house O&G projects owned by Petronas. In Langkawi, smart transportation projects will be implemented by Altel, while Digi and TM will conduct use cases for the tourism vertical. Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is also expected to test drive the autonomous car in Langkawi sometime early next year, Al-Ishsal added.

Meanwhile, Malaysia will have a position on the 5G spectrum as early as the first quarter of 2020 (1Q20) or latest in 2Q20, following which the allocation process for the spectrum can begin.

Al-Ishsal said the public inquiry on the allocation of spectrum bands for mobile broadband service has been completed, with clarifications now ongoing.

The spectrum will be made commercially available in the second half of 2020 through telecommunications companies, although commercial availability differs from actual deployment.

“We will deploy 5G during and after these demonstration projects. When we confirm the availability of 5G spectrum for industry players, then we will go towards 5G rollout,” he said, noting that the technology does not replace 4G LTE, rather it will co-exist alongside existing technologies.

For the demonstrations, 5G spectrum bands have been assigned in accordance to the requirements for each use case, as submitted by the industry players in their respective project proposals.

“The commission just approved last Friday the spectrum to be used for these demonstrations. Based on requests, for the most part, we’ve approved (the spectrum allocation). What we shared today are use cases for which the spectrum has been approved by the MCMC,” Al-Ishsal said.

He also reiterated Dr Mahathir’s statement that Malaysia is open to collaborating with all technology providers to supply 5G, including China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and ZTE Corp. Huawei, one of the pioneers of 5G, has been blacklisted by the US amid allegations of espionage activity.

“There’s no limitation or bounds against ZTE, Huawei and others. We’re open and the collaborations with ZTE and Huawei form quite several backbone for technology in these use cases,” Al-Ishsal said.

He added that although Huawei and ZTE are supplying technology for “quite a huge chunk” of the use cases, “everyone has an equal space”, with players such as edotco working with a US-based start-up for its smart city projects in Langkawi.