5G rollout gathers speed

Fahmi said that once the target is achieved, the government will allow the creation of a second network and will then embark on a dual wholesale network approach. — Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR: The rollout of the 5G network in the country has reached 62.1% coverage of populated areas as at May 31 involving 5,058 5G sites. This represents an increase of 2.6% from the 59.5% coverage reported as of end-April.

Minister of Communications and Digital Fahmi Fadzil said the rollout suggested the country was on track to achieve its target of 80% 5G network coverage in populated areas by the end of this year, which will be accomplished via Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB).

Once this target is achieved, Fahmi said the government will allow for the formation of a second network and will then embark on a dual wholesale network (DWN) approach, as announced last month.

“So, there will be entities A and B, where entity A, or DNB, will continue along with approximately half of the mobile network operators (MNOs), whereas entity B will comprise the other portion of MNOs,” Fahmi said during his keynote address at Invest Malaysia 2023 series two, a forum jointly organised by Bursa Malaysia and Macquarie Malaysia

The forum, themed “Digital Malaysia: Tomorrow’s Infrastructure, Today”, centred around Malaysia’s digitalisation efforts, with a specific emphasis on 5G infrastructure and cloud computing as crucial drivers in propelling the nation towards its goal of becoming a technologically empowered high-income nation.

Additionally, Fahmi also commended the leaders of MNOs for setting aside their competitive differences and participating in numerous meetings for the benefit of the public.

He believes collaboration and cooperation between private and public spheres was vital, as the country seeks to transform businesses, individual skills and mindsets.

This collaborative approach allowed for learning, adaptation and experimentation to identify the most effective strategies that suit the country’s specific circumstances, Fahmi pointed out.

“For us, generating success stories of all sizes plays a key role – far from being simple pride or an ego boost. Success stories are the things that inspire many others to come along on a journey that may be challenging at first, but ultimately rewarding in so many ways over time,” he added.

Bursa Malaysia chairman Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar, on the other hand, said that beyond active participation and strong partnerships among all stakeholders, the presence of robust infrastructure was essential to ensure acceleration of Malaysia’s progress as a technologically advanced economy.

“Technology and telco sectors are important drivers to our capital market,” Abdul Wahid said during his welcoming speech at the event.

Abdul Wahid pointed out that the Bursa Malaysia technology index has seen significant growth since 2013, with a 10-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.9%, outperforming the FBM KLCI by 439%.

Similarly, he highlighted that the Bursa Malaysia telco index has seen growth, albeit marginal, since its launch in 2018, with a five-year CAGR of 0.1%, also outperforming the FBM KLCI by 23%.

Meanwhile, on the National Digital Network Plan (Jendela) phase two, Fahmi said it started in the first quarter of this year involving a cost of RM8bil, including funds from industry players.

Jendela phase two aims to connect the remaining 3% of the population residing in inland and remote areas.

It also seeks to spread fibre broadband access to nine million premises and have average mobile broadband speeds of 100Mbps – all by 2025.

He reiterated that by 2025, the forecast for Malaysia’s digital economy sees it contributing 25.5% to the gross domestic product and creating half a million jobs.

Fahmi opined that cloud technology and data centres were among crucial factors in fulfilling the country’s Digital Malaysia aspiration.

Citing Knight Frank’s data centre research report, Abdul Wahid said Malaysia stood out in South-East Asia as the most attractive destination for data centre investment, with a 113 megawatt of take-up in 2022. “This represents a four-fold increase compared to the next highest market Thailand,” Abdul Wahid said.

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