5G to roll out by end 2022 or 2023

We have to see the people’s readiness to accept it, the readiness to avoid a new digital divide and the readiness from the industries, says minister

pic by BERNAMA

THE deployment of 5G in the country is expected by the end of 2022 or early 2023 to ensure that there is a strategic and detailed planning for network coverage in the country.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah (picture) told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday that it does not make sense to have a 5G network in several places while the rural area does not even have access to 4G.

“We will roll out 5G with specific and detailed planning.

“We have to see the people’s readiness to accept it, the readiness to avoid a new digital divide and the readiness from the industries because we expect 70% of the users to come from industries while the remaining 30% from regular users,” he said yesterday.

He was responding to a question from Natrah Ismail (Pakatan Harapan-Sekijang) who asked if the 5G deployment would ensure a quality and affordable network coverage for everyone.

Saifuddin said the public should remember that the priority for the deployment is to ensure nationwide connectivity and the government has identified the weaknesses and challenges present in the deployment as stated in the National Digital Network Plan (Jendela).

“Proper planning is important and better than being rushed without any preparation,” he said.

He added that the 5G demonstration projects launched in October last year totalled 71 cases and were demonstrated in 50 sites across seven states namely Kedah, Pahang, Perak, Penang, Selangor, Terengganu and Kuala Lumpur.

The projects were implemented via support and commitment from industry players in the telecommunications and multimedia industry which had donated investments amounting to an estimate of RM131 million, said Saifuddin.

“Based on positive feedback and the benefits shown, we have decided to extend the 5G demonstration projects until Dec 31, 2020.

“The extension is in line with the Jendela initiative announced by the prime minister in August,” he said.

The commercialisation of 5G technology was initially planned for the third quarter of 2020, as announced by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) in January this year.

The 700MHz and 3.5GHz bands would be assigned to a single entity through an open tender.

However, in May a letter signed by Saifuddin surfaced, which stated that MCMC was instructed to appoint Telekom Malaysia Bhd, Digi.Com Bhd, Maxis Bhd, Axiata Group Bhd and Altel Communications Sdn Bhd as the licence holders for the 700MHz band.

The minister later then instructed the MCMC to revoke the instructions directed on the basis of technical and legal issues, and the “need of a transparent process”.