5G penetration in Malaysia currently reaches 35.4%

A total of 7,065 5G sites have been already deployed across Malaysia as of April this year, local press reported, citing the country’s communications minister Fahmi Fadzil.

According to the report, 5G technology currently reaches 81.5% coverage in residential areas, while current subscription stands at 11.9 million, representing an overall penetration of 35.4%.

“The implementation of 5G, originally planned under the National Digital Network Plan 2023-2025 has been brought forward to the end of 2021 for phase one, and is now on track to achieve its targets,” the minister said.  

State-run 5G network Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB) was set up by the Malaysian government in 2021 as a special purpose vehicle to develop the country’s 5G network infrastructure, which private telecommunications firms are currently using to offer 5G services to their customers. DNB’s 5G network was deployed by Ericsson.

In May 2023, the Malaysian government announced it will enable the deployment of a second 5G network in 2024, adding that a new entity will be created to manage Malaysia’s second 5G network. At the time, the country’s communications minister Fahmi Fadzil said the decision to allow a second 5G network in the country was made with the aim of avoiding a single point of failure and to establish redundancy for 5G services.

The Malaysian authorities had said that the country would shift to a dual 5G network once DNB achieved 80% coverage in populated areas, something that occurred in December 2023. That month, Malaysia’s five major mobile operators signed share subscription agreements to acquire a collective 70% equity stake in DNB.

Under the terms of the agreement, local carriers CelcomDigi, Maxis, U Mobile, Telekom Malaysia and YTL Power International agreed to each buy a 14% stake in DNB, with an investment of about $50 million each. Those share subscriptions were expected to be completed between February and April 2024 after due diligence requirements are met, according to the Malaysian government.

In related news, local carrier CelcomDigi said it has completed 44% of its nationwide network integration and modernization program, ahead of schedule in its three-year post-merger transformation journey. CelcomDigi has modernized over 7,200 sites as at end April 2024, enabling customers in post-consolidation areas to now enjoy improved download speeds. The company launched the full-scale integration and modernization program in June 2023. 

To provide end-to-end 4G and 5G connectivity services for customers, CelcomDigi said it has modernized the network with 5G-ready equipment. Currently, 86% of the company’s sites are 5G-ready. 

The Malaysian telco also noted that its network modernization efforts also include the ongoing transformation of CelcomDigi’s 5G Core Network to deliver 5G-Advanced functionality and services, such as ultra-reliable and low-latency communications, massive machine-type communications and enhanced mobile broadband.

In December 2022, Axiata Group and Telenor Group had completed the merger of Malaysian operators Celcom and Digi. Following the completion of the merger, Axiata and Telenor now hold equal ownership in CelcomDigi at 33.1% each.

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