Going solo: Malaysia sets out 2021 launch plan for 5G

23 February 2021 | Melanie Mingas

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Malaysia's Communications and Multimedia Minister, Saifuddin Abdullah, has set out the country's plans for a US$3.7 billion 5G launch.

In a group interview on Monday he set out the timeline and expected major players, adding that work on the next generation network would begin as soon as possible in order to have a network available before the end of 2021.

The Malaysian government will build the network; however, Telekom Malaysia Bhd. and Huawei Technologies Co. are both expected to play a "very, very significant role" in its development. The government considered both the tender and consortium approaches but decided against these in the interests of time.  

On the Friday prior to Abdullah's interview, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced that Malaysia would invest 15 billion ringgit ($3.7 billion) over 10 years in the network. The government will set up a special purpose vehicle that will own the spectrum and manage the network, he said.

According to Bloomberg, on Monday Abdullah said: “We want to be among the first Asean member states to roll out 5G deployment and not just limit ourselves to 5G test labs.

 “It is very important for investment, and this is where companies like Huawei will play a very, very significant role.”

In June 2020, Abdullah revoked an order to divvy up 5G airwaves among the country's carriers, citing transparency, technical and legal issues.