Digital Nasional appoints Ericsson to design and build Malaysia’s 5G

Ericsson will arrange financing for the supply, delivery and management of the entire 5G network at a total cost of RM11b 

by ANIS HAZIM / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

DIGITAL Nasional Bhd (DNB) has appointed Ericsson Malaysia Sdn Bhd to accelerate the deployment of Malaysia’s nationwide 5G network and ecosystem. 

The design and build of the national 5G network will be undertaken by Ericsson at a total cost of RM11 billion. 

“This includes tower rental and fibre leasing, of which more than 60% is expected to benefit Bumiputera and other Malaysian contractors over the next 10 years,” DNB said in a statement yesterday. 

Ericsson will arrange financing for the supply, delivery and management of the entire 5G network. 

It will also undertake capacity building and innovation programmes to support local vendor development and participation, as well as to boost 5G adoption among the public to develop use cases in accelerating industry participation. 

“DNB will securitise future cashflows from its wholesale business via sukuk programmes to finance all other network operating expenditure and to repay all the vendor financing arrangements,” DNB said. 

DNB chairman Datuk Asri Hamidon said the group remains on track in its efforts to bring the best, competitively-priced technology and solution to drive 5G adoption nationwide. 

“This partnership model will also fast-track the rollout to Sabah and Sarawak, allowing the country to advance quickly towards providing inclusive and enhanced 5G services and connectivity under the MyDigital blueprint,” he said. 

Asri said the goal is to bring inclusive prosperity to the rakyat through 5G connectivity, which will be achieved in two parts. 

“First is through the immediate impact on the local vendor ecosystem, and second is to achieve significant coverage by making available 5G services in the targeted areas by end-2021, while achieving the 80% population coverage goal by 2024,” added Asri. 

Ericsson president and CEO Börje Ekholm said the group is delighted to partner DNB to deploy 5G for Malaysia. 

“The faster connectivity speeds, ultra-low latency and greater bandwidth of 5G for mobile broadband will empower Malaysia to quickly close the digital divide,” Börje said. 

Börje sees the partnership will increase Ericsson’s presence in the country and expand its legacy of nation-building, technological innovation and creation of local jobs in Malaysia. 

Meanwhile, DNB CEO Ralph Marshall said the group is aligned to global industry best practices which allow for better risk and performance management. 

“In addition to the technical and commercial proposals, long-term socio-economic commitment was a key dimension in the evaluation process. Viability of this approach is key to the execution of our 5G nationwide network rollout,” Marshall said. 

He added that the focus will be to serve three key service offerings, namely enhanced mobile broadband, ultra-reliable low latency communication and massive machine-type communications. 

“This is targeted at Malaysia’s industries such as oil and gas, ports, airports, government services, healthcare, power and utilities, manufacturing, banking and finance, education, retail, and agriculture,” Marshall added. 

Notably, it is equally important to safeguard users and platforms through enhanced security, which is a critical element of 5G technology and services. 

5G will be launched by end-2021 in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, and Cyberjaya. By 2022, DNB will start deploying 5G to five major cities and districts in the states of Selangor, Pulau Pinang, Johor, Sabah and Sarawak, followed by 17 cities nationwide, as well as rural areas in 2023 onwards.