Malaysia’s six major mobile network operators (MNOs) – Celcom, Digi Telecommunications, Maxis, Telekom Malaysia, U Mobile and YTL – have all now agreed to take equity stakes in Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB), the company tasked with rolling out the country’s sole 5G network.

The Straits Times notes though, that whilst the MNOs have agreed to acquire a combined 70% equity stake in DNB, talks are continuing over the terms of access to the latter’s in-deployment mobile infrastructure, with issues still being discussed including network quality, dispute resolution and, most crucially, price. Finance minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz was reported to have confirmed that the MNOs involved now have until 31 August 2022 to reach a deal on access terms and finalise their agreements, or risk losing out on access to DNB’s 5G network. Notably, the minister is adamant that the government will not extend this deadline, with Zafrul also noting that he ‘cannot say I’m confident’ of access deals being reached, given delays previously experienced in dealing with the country’s MNOs.

Sending something of a warning to the existing players over possible attempts to delay, meanwhile, the minister highlighted interest from foreign players, which he said had been ‘queuing up’ to participate in the Malaysian mobile market; interest is said to have come from countries included India, Hong Kong and Singapore. Indeed, speaking on the decision to have previously extended deadlines for the nation’s existing players to reach deals with DNB, Zafrul was cited as saying: ‘But we have to give these guys an opportunity to be the main players because they have invested so much. But I have another group (of policymakers) who feel that it’s time to open up also because this is the reason prices are so high, because we are protecting CDMU [Celcom, DiGi, Maxis, U Mobile], so maybe there’s some truth in it.’

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