Decision on single wholesale model of 5G rollout by Jan 2022

The govt is looking into allowing competition between MNOs and telcos after receiving feedback from industry players


THE government is reconsidering the single wholesale network (SWN) model for the rollout of fifth-generation (5G) network under Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB) after receiving second opinion and feedback from telcos, as well as industry players.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa said the telcos and industry players have continued to question the government over the proposed 5G rollout model.

The minister said to date, the government has decided to adopt a single wholesale network system whereby DNB will focus on providing the 5G infrastructure, instead of allowing mobile network operators (MNOs) and telcos to build their own infrastructure.

He said the government believes this will lead to inefficiency and also heighten the overall cost.

“This is why we want to allow one single entity to provide the infrastructure and then offer the wholesale spectrum to the retailers. This was the original plan.

“However, now we are receiving second opinion and feedback from the MNO and industry players by saying why the government does not allow some kind of competition. So, we are looking into that.

“We hope to make a final decision by January whether to stick to the single wholesale network system or to encourage or to have more than one operator to allow for some kind of competition,” he said in a press conference after a joint venture signing ceremony between CS Cloud Sdn Bhd and Cloocus Co Ltd in Petaling Jaya yesterday.

Annuar noted that the Cabinet has been briefed for the last two weeks, in regards to the basic policy and way forward of the rollout of the 5G network.

He added that the government will look further into the advantages and disadvantages of the two models that are being discussed now.

Nevertheless, he said DNB will continue as planned for now and the first roll-out will take place this month. 

“We cannot delay the rollout of 5G anymore as other countries are also moving very fast. So, we have to make sure the rollout takes place as planned.

“Within three years, we hope to have 80% of populated areas in the country covered by the 5G facilities and for the second phase, which is by next year, we will focus on densely populated areas such as Penang, Johor, Sabah and Sarawak.

“While, the first phase of rollout will be for Kuala Lumpur, Cyberjaya, and Putrajaya,” he noted.

DNB was appointed as the special purpose vehicle for the nationwide rollout of 5G spectrum in the country.

DNB is expected to spend between RM16.5 billion and RM20 billion in the next 10 years to build the 5G connectivity which is expected to cover 80% of the country by 2024.

On Monday, DNB announced that it will offer wholesale 5G services to mobile carriers at no cost during an initial roll-out which is set to begin next week.

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-small and medium enterprises (micro-SMEs) and corporate businesses. 

“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,” the group said.

According to DNB, the 5G services will be commercially available from Dec 15 in three central areas, including parts of Kuala Lumpur.

The agency noted that it will provide 5G services for free to all operators integrated into its network until March 31, as it seeks to finalise its wholesale agreements with carriers. 

DNB hopes to sign long-term contracts in early 2022.