Malaysia expects the ongoing upgrade of its broadband infrastructure will be completed by the end of next year.

Malaysia’s National Digital Network program, which was established to upgrade the country’s broadband infrastructure, is on track to be completed by the end of 2025, according to a recent update by communications minister Fahmi Fadzil.

According to The Edge Malaysia, Fahmi said that 2,395 new telecommunication towers – nearly 62% of the planned 3,884 – are already up and running as of the end of January 2024, adding that 39,983 transmitter stations have been upgraded out of the planned 40,214 during the same time period.

On the fixed-line side, the news report said 3.32 million premises out of the planned 4.19 million have been equipped with fiber optic connectivity.

Launched in August 2020, the National Digital Network program (locally known as Jendela) is a two-phase initiative under the 12th Malaysian Plan (2021-2025). Valued at 21 billion Malaysian ringgit (US$4.4 billion), the first phase of the program involves expanding 4G mobile coverage to 96.9% in populated areas, raising mobile broadband speed to 35 Mbit/s and delivering gigabit-speed fixed-line broadband to 7.5 million premises.

The second phase involves the expansion of 5G across the country. In January, Fahmi said Malaysia’s wholesale 5G network operator Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB) now covers more than 80% of populated areas. With the DNB reaching this key milestone, the path is now clear for the rollout of a second wholesale 5G network.

“All planned Jendela initiatives are expected to be completed and operational in stages by the end of 2025,” Fahmi said during a Q&A session held at Dewan Rakyat – the lower house of the Malaysian parliament – on March 25.

‘Naked towers’ reactivated in Sarawak

In the same session of Dewan Rakyat, Fahmi also revealed that 169 “naked towers” (telecom towers with no equipment on them) in Sarawak had been successfully reactivated between January 1 and March 22.

According to local media reports, Fahmi said the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), the Finance Ministry (MOF) and the telco operators in Sarawak have agreed to pool resources to reactivate another 431 telecom towers that lie idle on the island.

“Overall, RM206.78 million [$43.49 million] will be spent by MCMC, MOF and telecommunication companies to ensure that the 600 towers which have been built by Sarawak Multimedia Authority can be utilized fully,” he said.

The plan is to get all 600 telecom towers operating within three years.

It is expected that residents located outside Sarawak’s city center will be able to access 4G Internet coverage once all 600 telecom towers are up and running.

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