Malaysian 5G is here at last

Malaysian operators Celcom Axiata, DiGi Telecommunications, Telekom Malaysia and U Mobile have now signed agreements to access – for ten years – the much-delayed wholesale 5G network rolled out and run by state agency Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB).

It seems the state’s reference access offer (RAO) – which sets out pricing, service commitments, and other details of DNB's wholesale 5G model, has been adjusted to take into account operator misgivings about its commercial viability. However, what these changes are will not be made generally known until the RAO has been approved by Malaysia's communications regulator.

Before the signing Celcom, DiGi, Telekom and YTL Communications had agreed to take up a collective 65% stake in DNB. U Mobile had declined but is now on board, it seems. In fact according to TeleGeography's CommsUpdate six MNOs – Celcom, Digi, Maxis, U Mobile, YTL and Telekom Malaysia – now have access agreements with DNB. 

Digi confirmed this on its website, saying: “Digi continues its ongoing 5G network testing with its technology partners and DNB, towards enabling its customers to soon enjoy 5G services. More details on Digi’s 5G offerings will be shared in due course.”

U Mobile, however, says it will begin making 5G services commercially available to its customers from 3 November – and Celcom is going to market even earlier. From 1 November 2022, Celcom customers, including Celcom Business customers, who have 5G-enabled devices and are subscribed to selected Celcom postpaid and prepaid plans, will automatically be able to access 5G network services within 5G coverage areas.

During this introductory period, Celcom is waiving the 5G access fee for customers to enjoy 5G services until 31 December 2022.

It seems that this highly distinctive approach to 5G is finally up and running after a number of setbacks amid what Reuters calls “an impasse between the government and major carriers over pricing and transparency, including concern that a sole state-run network would result in a nationalised monopoly”.

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