Malaysia gears up for second 5G player as DNB hits coverage target

Malaysia gears up for second 5G player as DNB hits coverage target

Malaysia’s wholesale 5G network operator Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB) now covers just over 80% of populated areas, clearing the final criteria for the creation of a second 5G operator.

According to the Bernama news agency, Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil said on Wednesday that 5G network coverage in Malaysia reached 80.2% in populated areas as of December 31.

Last year, the government began making plans to transition from the current Single Wholesale Network (SWN) 5G model to a Dual Network (DN) model. As part of that plan, the government had said it would wait until DNB’s 5G network covers 80% of populated areas.

Fahmi said now that the coverage target has been achieved, the Special Task Force on 5G will meet on Friday to work out the specific roadmap for setting up the second 5G operator, the report said.

“The government will not take long to consider and make an announcement of a shift from single to dual 5G network coverage. After that, the dual 5G [network coverage] can be implemented if the terms agreed by the task force are achieved,” Fahmi was quoted as saying.

Last month, according to media reports, Fahmi Fadzil said the second 5G operator will be strictly commercial, with no government ownership.

The Ministry of Finance (MOF) holds a 30% stake in DNB, while the rest is split between the country’s five operators: Telekom Malaysia, Maxis, U Mobile, YTL and CelcomDigi (via Infranation). Once the second 5G operator is officially greenlighted, the MOF has the option to exit DNB.

Under the terms of share subscription agreements signed last month, DNB’s operator stakeholders will be able to decide among themselves who stays in DNB and who moves over to the second 5G operator, although MCMC has the final say.

In related news, Bernama also reported Wednesday that the Malaysian government decided to place DNB under the purview of the Ministry of Digital.

This follows last month’s cabinet reshuffle that saw, among other changes, the Ministry of Communications and Digital split into separate entities.

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said at the time that the digital sector in Malaysia needs a dedicated ministry, partly because digital transformation is a major plank of the unity government, but also because the digital sector itself is rapidly evolving.

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