In A Semi U-Turn, Govt Stays On SWN Model Under DNB To Deliver 5G, After Deliberation

The single wholesale 5G network (SWN) model under Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB) would stay until 80% coverage of populated areas (Copa) is achieved, the government said today.

The decision, made today (May 3), came after five months of deliberation after the government’s announcement of a review of the nation’s 5G roll-out.

 “Upon reaching 80% coverage of populated areas (Copa) by end-2023, the roll-out will shift to “Phase 2”, where the nation will move to a dual wholesale network (DWN) model,” Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil said today (May 3).

Fahmi added under the DWN model, a separate entity he called “Entity B”, will comprise of interested mobile network operators (MNOs) which can provide their own networks.

DNB has achieved 57.8% coverage of populated areas currently and is on track to hit 80% by the end of the year, he said.

Less than a month ago, (April 16), the government announced that Malaysia plans to introduce a second 5G network commencing in 2024 in the latest policy shake-up aimed at dismantling monopolies and promoting competition.

Malaysia’s 5G roll-out by state agency Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB) has seen repeated setbacks since its launch in December 2021 because of industry concerns over pricing and transparency, as well as worries that a single government-run network would result in a nationalised monopoly.

Since taking office in November last year, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has ordered reviews of billions of dollars in government projects as he looks to strengthen governance and minimise wasteful spending. He has also vowed to boost competition to ensure better services for the public.

Anwar’s government is now planning to introduce a second 5G network from January 2024 to challenge DNB’s lock on the market, four sources familiar with discussions told Reuters then, declining to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Four Malaysian telco firms — Maxis Bhd, U Mobile, Telekom Malaysia and YTL Communications — did not immediately respond to requests for comment. DNB and a fifth firm, CelcomDigi, declined to comment. CelcomDigi directed further queries to the government.

DNB has said a single network would reduce costs, improve efficiency and accelerate the building of infrastructure.

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