TM confirms 5G pilot trial with DNB

Unifi mobile postpaid customers with certified 5G devices will be able to experience 5G services in selected areas within Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Cyberjaya


TELEKOM Malaysia Bhd (TM) has confirmed that it will be conducting 5G trials with Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB) to optimise the services.

In a statement, TM said during this pilot trial, Unifi mobile postpaid customers with certified 5G devices will be able to experience 5G services in selected areas within Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Cyberjaya.

“Technology and digital connectivity have become a necessity in today’s ecosystem. With the rollout of 5G, it will further advance value creation for consumers, micro-SMEs (micro-small and medium enterprises) and corporate businesses,” the company said.

“We will continue to support the government’s aspiration to deliver 5G for the nation and accelerate society, businesses and industry’s leap towards a Digital Malaysia.”

Last week, Singapore’s The Straits Times (ST) reported that TM has signed up for pilot trials despite the domestic telcos’ hesitancy to come on board the government’s open access model.

ST also said that with the government’s intervention, Celcom Axiata Bhd — which is under the government-linked multinational telecommunication corporation Axiata Group Bhd — is likely to follow suit.

The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) reported last week that it was unlikely that the current government will abandon its open-access 5G platform, but telcos not jumping on board was a sticking point.

Fitch Solutions’ ICT research head Andrew Kitson told TMR that the government opted for the current plan to provide universal quality and availability of service and promote standard pricing for consumers, so that no one is left behind.

“The sticking point at the moment is that major telcos want to control both infrastructure and services that would give them the ability to invest where potential returns are highest and risks are lowest, so the DNB model is anathema to them.”

He said a more viable approach would be if the government allows operators to build their own networks, while establishing some ground rules.

The Ministry of Finance’s (MoF) decision to deploy 5G via a single wholesale network (SWN) system had been criticised, where the Opposition said that the move is akin to monopoly and it is more expensive.

Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz said the 5G network will cost less than 20 sen per gigabyte (GB) for telcos via the SWN. This is cheaper than the incremental cost for each GB for the 4G network produced by telcos, which stands between 45 sen and 55 sen.

“The pricing process for 5G is almost finalised and it is very different and much lower than the cost per GB for 4G by telcos.

“I also understand that the DNB will charge less than 20 sen for each GB for 5G to telcos,” he said in the Dewan Rakyat recently.

Tengku Zafrul added that through the SWN model, each telco is expected to pay the DNB between RM3.5 billion and RM4 billion within 10 years, or an average of RM350 million to RM400 million a year.