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Malaysia 5G: telcos' snub slows rollout

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Malaysia’s 5G plan has been dealt a blow by telcos refusing to budge over pricing and transparency issues ahead of next month’s planned rollout.

None of the local telcos have agreed to use Putrajaya’s 5G network but it will still be launched in three urban centres including one in Kuala Lumpur.

State-owned network wholesaler Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB) told Reuters that there was no agreement in place with carriers, adding that the “initial timeline for negotiations had been too optimistic”.

In February 2021, the Malaysian government revealed its 5G rollout plan by the end of the year. According to a GSMA intelligence report on Malaysia’s 5G plans, while operators in the region planned to rollout 5G in the country, government intervention has led to potentially misdirected resources by operators.

The report also states that Malaysian regulator MCMC (Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission) faces the challenge to ensure the optimal use of spectrum and open equal access to wholesale 5G services for all mobile operators on fair pricing terms.

The Malaysian Institute of Economic Research found that 5G could contribute an additional MYR12.7 billion ($3.1 billion) to GDP2 between 2021 and 2025.

However, in order to achieve this, the report states that the government will need to ensure that it achieves a timely deployment of 5G while encouraging cross-industry partnerships.

However, the report added that uncertainty may harm investor confidence and ultimately slow the adoption of 5G service.

This hasn’t been helped by ongoing political instability caused by continual shifts in power with three new government administrations in as many years and a multibillion-dollar corruption scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad.

DNB now says it will seek long term agreements early next year.