PETALING JAYA: While all mobile telecommunications companies have agreed to take up equity stakes in Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB), not all of them have agreed to the finer terms to seal the deal as of yet.
Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz stated Maxis Bhd and U Mobile Sdn Bhd are the latest to accept the terms offered by DNB, which has been assigned the rights to build and operate the nation’s 5G network.
However Tengku Zafrul told a news portal the telcos will have to agree to the terms by Aug 31, without which a full completion of the deal cannot happen.
It appears pressure to accept the equity stakes along with the terms may also have come from foreign firms that have reportedly ‘expressed interest’ to have access to the Malaysian market.
Tengku Zafrul said foreign telecommunication companies are “queuing up” for market access.
“There are many who have registered strong interest. They say we have got the technology and know how to play the game,” he said.
The Star earlier reported Communications and Multimedia Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa saying in July that major telcos had agreed to take up stakes in DNB.
While there is strong foreign interest, Tengku Zafrul implied local telcos should be given priority in the rollout of 5G across Malaysia.
“I think we have to give them an opportunity to continue to be the main players as they have invested so much,” he was quoted as saying in the interview.
Tengku Zafrul also pointed out that the government has no plans to extend the Aug 31 deadline set.
“Some of the players probably want to delay longer, but whoever wants to sign can sign first,” he said.
The finance minister kept the door open for foreign players to enter the scene after current talks are concluded.
The whole contention over 5G rollout in the country began when the government decided to create DNB, a special purpose vehicle to roll out a 5G network in the country under a single wholesale network model (SWN).
Telcos however wanted a natural migration of their own networks from 4G to 5G.
After much objection from the telcos who had proposed a dual wholesale network to counter the SWN, the government decided to offer 70% stake in DNB to the players and keep 30%, while holding a golden share.