Malaysia: one wholesale 5G network or two?

Malaysia: one wholesale 5G network or two?

As the debate over whether a single wholesale 5G network will be rolled out in Malaysia rumbles on, it seems that some of the country’s operators are now arguing for a second 5G provider.

The call for a second 5G service to be set up comes ahead of next month’s cabinet decision on whether to go ahead with a plan for a single, shared wholesale network.

The feeling on the part of some industry players seems to be that a single state-run network could hamper competition. In the light of which, representatives from the country's six mobile operators apparently met ministry officials recently to discuss the issues. 

Reuters says that four operators – Celcom, DiGi.com, Maxis and U Mobile – recommended that the government allow two wholesale 5G networks, each to be built and operated by a consortium of carriers. The idea seems to be that work would start on both networks in parallel next year in order that deployment can be accelerated. They can then be separated from 2023, becoming competing networks.

Of the other operators involved, YTL Communications is said to have expressed support for a single 5G network, while Telekom Malaysia plans to back any government decision.

Reuters adds that the carriers would be open to proposals that would allow them to own equity in Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB), the state agency tasked with deploying 5G. They also asked for greater inclusion in the government's rollout plans.

DNB plans to launch an initial 5G rollout in three central areas this week. Even so, there’s no doubt still time for more proposals and rumours ahead of January when the cabinet will decide whether or not to allow multiple 5G providers.

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