U-turn: Saifuddin cancels 5G spectrum allocation that was awarded without tender

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has been ordered to cancel the ministerial order on the spectrum allocation that was awarded to five telecom players without an open tender, says the Communications and Multimedia Minister.

Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah (pic) said that “18 instruments including the usage of the spectrum on the bandwidths of 700MHz, 900MHz and 2600MHz have been presented to me.

“Based on technical and legal issues, as well as the need to be more transparent, I have ordered the MCMC chairman to cancel the ministerial order and study again the instruments as soon as possible," said Saifuddin in a press statement on Wednesday (June 3).

The statement was issued after reports of the 5G spectrum being awarded without an open tender went viral.

The highly sought-after 5G telecommunications spectrum was awarded to several players, including Altel, a firm controlled by the reclusive but politically connected tycoon Syed Mokhtar al-Bukhary.

The May 15 decision, signed off by Saifuddin, went unannounced to the public.

Despite much fanfare concerning the potential of 5G services – which could be up to 20 times faster than current 4G mobile connections – the signed orders were uploaded to the MCMC website in a buried section on spectrums, with no media statements issued.

The rollout of 5G is a key plank in the RM22bil National Fiberisation and Connectivity Plan, which Perikatan Nasional government has promised it would continue despite the change of government.

The previous Pakatan Harapan government had promised the spectrum would be awarded via an open tender. Under that administration, Saifuddin was Foreign Minister.

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