5G rollout in 3 cities by year-end

Digital Nasional says initial rollout covers KL, Putrajaya and Cyberjaya, followed by 5 major cities and districts in 5 states by 2022


THE national fifth generation (5G) network will be launched by the end of 2021 beginning with Kuala Lumpur (KL), Putrajaya and Cyberjaya, according to Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB).

By 2022, it will start deploying 5G to five major cities and districts in Selangor, Penang, Johor, Sabah and Sarawak, DNB told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) in response to an email query.

Subsequently, the 5G network will be rolled out nationwide to cover 17 cities, as well as rural areas, from 2023 onwards.

In December 2019, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) had said six telecommunications companies conducted 5G demonstration projects (5GDP) in Langkawi, which have begun to show very good results with 37 cases of utilisation in the agriculture, digital healthcare, education, entertainment, smart city, smart transport and tourism sectors.

Malaysia had planned to roll out the 5G networks in 2020, making it among the first in Asia to deploy the technology.

However, the plan was deferred by 12 months as the spectrum allocations were reversed and nullified by the government.

DNB explained that the 5G spectrum is allocated to DNB based on Apparatus Assignment, which comes with a fee as prescribed under the MCMC’s relevant regulatory framework.

“To reiterate, DNB is a licensed telecommunications technology company mandated by the government of Malaysia to accelerate the deployment of the nation’s 5G network nationwide,” it said.

DNB added that the 5G rollout will be implemented under the Single Wholesale Network model, where DNB will exclusively own, build and operate the 5G infrastructure and provide access to licensed telecommunications service providers (telcos) in the country.

The firm announced its partnership with Ericsson (M) Sdn Bhd to accelerate the deployment of Malaysia’s nationwide 5G network and ecosystem on July 1.

“This strategic partnership reflects DNB’s commitment to bringing the best, competitively-priced technology and solution to drive 5G adoption nationwide,” DNB told TMR.

“In addition, this partnership model will also fast-track the 5G rollout to Sabah and Sarawak, allowing the country to advance quickly towards providing inclusive and enhanced 5G services and connectivity under the MyDigital Blueprint.”

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 last week.

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.

As one of the four pillars identified under Malaysia’s digital transformation plan MyDigital, the 5G network will serve as the nation’s connectivity backbone and will be the springboard towards achieving the vision of a connected future and regional leader in the digital economy.

It is separate from the Jalinan Digital Negara or Jendela initiative.

DNB added that the 5G network is expected to be a catalyst for significantly greater investment in related products and services to support the projected 100,000 new jobs that will be created by the network and technology rollout.