Paving the way forward with 5G

THE national digital infrastructure plan known as Jalinan Digital Negara (Jendela) was set up with the aim to equip all Malaysians with access to quality broadband services – paving the way for the country’s digital transition towards 5G technology.

Jendela, which comes under the purview of the Communications and Multimedia Ministry via the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), will be implemented in stages from 2021 to 2025 under the 12th Malaysia Plan with the hopes of making the delivery of 5G services a reality by 2022.

According to MCMC chairman Dr Fadhlullah Suhaimi Abdul Malek, Jendela will be given a budget of around RM21bil and continue some goals set down by the earlier National Fiberisation Connectivity Plan (NFCP).

Fadhlullah Suhaimi said the Covid-19 pandemic had changed the public’s lifestyle and Internet utilisation, and people now spend less time in the office and school, and utilise high data volume at home (The Star, Oct 12).

He attributed this partly to the cost of broadband services which has dropped significantly in the last two years. He further added that the main aim of Jendela is to boost 4G connectivity in the country.

While plans are already underway to grow the country’s digital reach, the Covid-19 pandemic precipitated the urgency to embark on this strategy, given the drastic increase in Internet consumption as home-learning and businesses made the paradigm shift to residential areas during lockdowns and employees had to work from home.

The focus will now be on improving broadband coverage from 91.8% to 96.9% in populated areas and places with economic activities, and bringing up speed from 25 megabit per second (Mbps) to 35Mbps.

This is to be covered within the first phase of Jendela that targets to encompass 7.5 million premises with access to gigabit speed broadband by 2022.

In the process, 3G network coverage will make way for the expansion of 4G and existing digital infrastructure prepped to be ready for 5G.

Works for the Jendela initiative have already started, said Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who was quoted by the New Straits Times that RM2.45bil would be used for Sabah, making the sState the biggest beneficiary of the infrastructure development project.

Implementation of the Jendela initiative would make broadband connectivity and services in Sabah on par with those in other states in Malaysia.

The next step will be Phase Two which will look into achieving 100% of 4G coverage at 100Mbps speed whereby there should be nine million premises and more utilising 5G coverage.

With the new fifth generation service, one can look forward to super high speeds, more device connectivity and low latency that will not only enhance mobile and entertainment usage, but revolutionise peer-to-peer communications and enable autonomous car technology, IoT (Internet-of-Things) and robotic medical advancements.

In order to reach its goals, Jendela will need a comprehensive view of all existing and planned digital infrastructure map via the Communication Infrastructure Management System (CIMS).

As such, the current CIMS will be enhanced to include input from the industry and Government. The Jendela map will serve to identify gaps in the digital infrastructure, address issues in coverage and speed gaps, and optimise the use of resources, including planning of infrastructure sharing and reducing duplication.

Some of the initiatives recommended in a National Digital Infrastructure Lab report included streamlined data reporting process across supply and demand stakeholders, enhancement of the communications infrastructure management system and human capital requirements, and improvements in data integrity.

As Malaysia strives towards full 5G deployment, we can look forward to an economy that is more resilient and competitive globally, and an enriched digital-based society.

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