A Strategic Alliance in Malaysian Telecom

In a notable development within Malaysia’s telecommunications sector, the country’s principal mobile operators have collectively decided to acquire shares in Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB), the state-owned 5G network provider. This move, announced by the Malaysian government, marks a significant step in the country’s journey towards advanced 5G connectivity.

DNB: Spearheading Malaysia’s 5G Ambitions

Established by the Malaysian government in 2021, DNB serves as a pivotal entity in the nation’s telecommunications landscape. Its primary role is to construct and manage the 5G network infrastructure that will form the backbone of future telecommunication services in Malaysia.

Collaboration with Local Carriers

Malaysia’s 5G Network Implementation Task Force has successfully brokered a deal for equity participation in DNB with major local carriers, including Celcom Digi, Maxis, Telekom Malaysia, U-Mobile, and YTL Communications. However, the specifics of the stakes each operator will hold in DNB have not been disclosed.

Progress and Coverage

DNB has made significant strides in deploying 5G technology, achieving coverage of 64.7% of populated areas by the end of June. This rapid expansion underscores the country’s commitment to establishing a robust 5G network.

Maxis Leads the Charge

Maxis is currently in the process of finalizing a 5G access agreement with DNB, a development that will usher in a new era of 5G services for its customers, pending shareholder approval in the upcoming extraordinary general meeting.

Early Adopters

Other carriers such as Celcom Digi, Telekom Malaysia, U-Mobile, and YTL Communications have already commenced offering 5G services, having signed access agreements with DNB in 2022.

The Road to 5G: Challenges and Solutions

Despite the progress, the deployment of Malaysia’s 5G network by DNB has been marred by concerns over pricing, transparency, and the risk of a state-run monopoly. These issues prompted Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim to call for a comprehensive review of the 5G rollout. Subsequently, the government announced plans for a second 5G network, slated for deployment in 2024, to be managed by a newly formed entity.

Looking Ahead: DNB’s Role and Future

Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil has affirmed that DNB will continue its 5G network expansion until it reaches an 80% coverage target by year’s end. Additionally, the government has revealed that DNB will transition to private management once it fulfills its 5G coverage objectives, signaling a new phase in Malaysia’s digital infrastructure development.