Experts: 5G penetration in Malaysia will be faster than 4G

Application development, 5G use cases and device manufacturers that will enhance the adoption rate are among the drivers of fast 5G adoptions in Malaysia

by ASILA JALIL/ pic by ARIF KARTONO

NATIONWIDE 5G penetration will be faster than the time taken by 4G to hit its current penetration level of 91.8% since its launch in 2013, according to industry experts.

Maxis Bhd CEO Gokhan Ogut said the deployment of 5G would be a gradual rollout that takes into account the present demand for the network.

“The current global expectation is that device penetration and coverage of 5G services shows a steeper curve and will be higher than 4G,” he said at the Invest Malaysia 2020 conference held in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

There is also growing demand for 5G from enterprises and customers in urban areas amid the Covid-19 pandemic, which has accelerated the need for 5G to be deployed.

DiGi.Com Bhd CEO Albern Murty said among the drivers of fast 5G adoption in Malaysia would be application development, 5G use cases and device manufacturers that will enhance the adoption rate.

“There are a lot of use cases on the need and demand that have been created post-Covid-19,” he said.

The pandemic and its various containment measures have also made businesses aware of the need to digitise their operations without compromising efficiency, he added.

The previous government had initially planned to commercialise 5G technology in the third quarter of 2020. The spectrum bands were to be assigned to a consortium of multiple licensees, conducted through an open tender.

However, in June, it was revealed that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) was instructed in May to appoint several telecommunications companies as licence holders for the 700MHz band.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, who had approved the directive, then directed the MCMC to revoke the instructions.

Analysts said this could delay the domestic deployment of 5G up to 2021.

According to the MCMC’s FAQ on the National 5G Task Force dated January 2020, a study conducted by the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research estimated that Malaysia will have 2.1 million 5G subscriptions by 2025, with a projected penetration of 6.6 subscriptions per 100 people.

The rollout of 5G is estimated to contribute RM12.7 billion to domestic GDP from 2021 to 2025, it added.

The 5G implementation is also expected to create 39,000 jobs, Bursa Malaysia Bhd chairman Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar said in his welcoming address at the conference yesterday.

Meanwhile, MCMC chairman Dr Fadhlullah Suhaimi Abdul Malek (picture) said telecommunications services should be viewed as a utility similar to water and electricity, for better planning of infrastructure development.

A new development area would have plans for water and electricity as they are prioritised as necessities, yet the same treatment is not applied to telecommunications services.

“Telecommunications services would come into the area (only) when people have moved in. Until today, some people have lived for a good 10 years in an area where the telecommunications service is not where they want it to be.

“By making the service a utility, you would automatically have a model whereby the development plan identifies water, electricity and telecommunications,” he said.

The MCMC and the Communications and Multimedia Ministry are meeting with the respective chief ministers to discuss the need to treat telecommunications as a utility, Fadhullah Suhaimi added.

For this to materialise, government agencies and service providers need to be able to convince stakeholders that there is economic value to the matter.

“It can be done, but it takes a lot of communication with stakeholders for them to appreciate the upside,” Fadhullah Suhaimi said.