Malaysia must rapidly execute 5G plans to compete in region

by ASILA JALIL / pic by BLOOMBERG

MALAYSIA must rapidly execute its 5G plans to compete with regional peers that have already adopted the technology.

In the International Data Corporation (IDC) White Paper titled “Building a 5G Foundation for Digital Malaysia” commissioned by Ericsson, rapid 5G rollout will provide an optimal return on investment and provide a scalable solution to support future consumer and enterprise 5G demand.

“IDC forecasts that by 2025, there will be 6.2 million Internet of Things (IoT) cellular connections in Malaysia, up from 3.9 million in 2020. This will generate between 1.3 and 1.6 TeraBytes per second (Tbps) of IP traffic as 4K cameras proliferate for use cases in Smart-City and Manufacturing, and in transport hubs. 

“5G indoor and outdoor connectivity will enable a wide range of use cases that were not feasible with 4G due to the lack of bandwidth and high latency.

“IoT alone will generate significant IP traffic which further highlights the need for expanded backhaul bandwidth to support both 5G cell sites but also fixed aggregation at factories, stadiums, and various government and Smart City locations,” it said. 

It noted that 5G will make Malaysia more attractive as a destination for foreign direct investment due to the availability of a robust digital infrastructure.

It also enables the incorporation of 5G in local industries’ roadmaps that could benefit industries such as energy, utilities, transportation and manufacturing.

In terms of spectrum allocation, the White Paper also proposed some recommendations for the government to consider to ensure a smooth rollout of the network.

It recommended the government to provide flexibility to enterprises for deployment of 5G private networks in collaboration with industry players, according to relevant business cases.

“Factories, stadiums and campuses will have the option of adopting 5G mid-band/mmWave bands and/or 5G new radio unlicensed in the 5Gigahertz (GHz) band. 6GHz is also an important band to consider for 5G.

“The approach proposed for Malaysia is similar, where mobile network operators (MNOs) become the retailers for consumers, enterprises and government. IDC believes that the government should incentivise system integrators, MNOs and industry specialists to build 5G private networking to benefit from the real-time control and mobility capabilities of 5G, even in indoor settings.

“We envision that these indoor implementations will utilise cloud-native, virtualised 5G Cores on premises or in the public cloud,” it added.

Other recommendations it underscored in the White Paper include for the government to develop an exhaustive, long-term spectrum roadmap for Malaysia that addresses all candidate bands and to list the key actions required to make them functional. 

Top priority bands should be 700Megahertz (MHz), 3500MHz and mmWave 26/28GHz.

In the White Paper, IDC also said ecosystem partnerships are critical for MNOs and the entire industry involved in 5G rollout nationwide.

“Deep partnerships with software, hardware and services vendors, as well as close relationships with industry partners, are required to integrate the diverse technologies necessary to realise the most complex 5G use cases.

“This will also ensure that 5G solutions closely align with the operational reality of customers’ day-to-day needs. Collaborate with global and local partners,” it noted.

It added that 5G handsets will make up 60.6% of total handset shipments to Malaysia in 2025, which in turn will enable a rapid take-up rate of 5G services.

By 2025, the firm projected, there will be 12.7 million 5G connections or roughly 22.4% of total subscribers as well as 43.1 million 4G LTE subscriptions in Malaysia or 76.2% of total subscriptions.

Meanwhile, Communications and Multimedia Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa said the module that will be used by the government in implementing the 5G network will be explained in detail by the Finance Ministry in the Dewan Rakyat today.

He admitted that there is currently a debate on which is better, the multi-system concept, namely the 5G network operated by various telecommunication companies or the single wholesale network system, which only involves a single company as planned to be used by the country.

Annuar said the government was aware that the single provider concept had a history of failure in several other countries.

“Studies have been done on the causes of failure and the information we have obtained so far is that the basis and background of the problems are very different and the single wholesale network model is not the same as what is planned to be used through DNB.

“However, the Finance Minister will elaborate about DNB as it is a company under the Finance Ministry’s responsibility, while my ministry will regulate the spectrum distribution and the implementation of services later,“ he said.

Annuar said this when winding up the debate on the 2022 Supply Bill at the policy stage for the ministry in the house yesterday.