Malaysia’s government has confirmed that it is to allow the deployment of a second 5G network in the country from next year, subject to Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB) – the company currently tasked with the rollout of the technology – achieving 80% population coverage.

In a statement confirming the government’s plans, Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil was cited as saying: ‘This model also takes into account the sustainability of the telecommunications industry ecosystem in Malaysia thus ending the monopoly element that is often associated with DNB.’

Response to the development has been largely positive from local cellcos, with CelcomDigi – the enlarged entity formed following last year’s merger of Celcom Axiata and Digi Telecommunications – issuing a press release welcoming the decision, given ‘the opportunity [it provides] to play a more active and direct role in the country’s 5G implementation’. A similar statement was issued by Maxis, which remains the only one of the country’s incumbent cellcos yet to begin providing 5G services via DNB’s network. The company said it was ‘committed to working closely with the industry to accelerate 5G for the nation in line with the Government’s digital ambitions’, adding that when the second 5G network is rolled out it ‘looks forward to playing a more direct role in the country’s 5G implementation leveraging its expertise, resources and existing infrastructure’. For its part, U Mobile said it ‘[shared] the belief that the upcoming shift in 5G network model would increase efficiencies and also encourage greater adoption for both consumers and enterprises’.

In a related development, meanwhile, Celcom and Digi Telecommunications have terminated their respective share subscription agreement (SSA) with DNB, effective 3 May 2023. According to a filing lodged with Bursa Malaysia by CelcomDigi, the termination was made ‘as the long stop date to fulfil all the conditions precedent under the SSA has lapsed’.

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