Is Malaysia about to announce plans for a second 5G network?

Is Malaysia about to announce plans for a second 5G network?

Could the state-supported 5G network Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB) be under threat from competition in Malaysia? A number of sources are suggesting that Malaysia plans to introduce a second 5G network from next year, though this remains unconfirmed by government.

Reuters cites a number of sources suggesting that this is part of a policy shake-up by the present administration aimed at dismantling monopolies and promoting competition. The administration has focused on minimising wasteful spending and boosting competition.

What this means for DNB is unclear, though we have already reported industry concerns about pricing and transparency relating to DNB, as well as worries that it will mean a nationalised monopoly. If the suggestion that the government plans to introduce a second 5G network from January 2024 is true, it seems that these concerns have been noted.

However an earlier recommendation by major carriers for a second 5G provider was rejected, albeit by a previous government. More recently, after months of talks, all but one of the country's five mobile operators agreed in October to use DNB's network to bring 5G services to customers.

However, the present government, which took office in November, suggested the 5G plan had not been formulated transparently by the previous administration and announce a review.

The numerous firms involved in DNB have kept a low profile in the light of these revelations, but Reuters suggests, based on information from its sources, that a proposal on the plan could be submitted to the cabinet on Wednesday.

The sources also suggest that the plan for a second network will be contingent on DNB and mobile operators ensuring that 5G network coverage reaches the government's target of 80% of the country's populated areas by the end of this year.

The big question now is whether we can expect a second state-run network on the same 5G wholesale basis as DNB, or a completely private 5G network – and how the signatories to DNB will respond to such a development.

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