Single company for 5G rollout must be independent

  • Letters
  • Tuesday, 03 Dec 2019

I READ with great interest this report published recently in The Star: “Govt mulls creating single netco to drive 5G rollout” (Nov 30; online at as I recently wrote a letter about shared fibre infrastructure (“A monopoly to open up competition”, The Star, Nov 26; online at

For an independent entity to manage shared infrastructure, it must have shareholders, management and office premises that are all independent from customers. Otherwise its neutrality will be affected and conflicts of interests will arise. A few years ago we had a consortium to provide wholesale IP transit services. Eventually, it ceased operations primary due to conflicts of interest among its shareholders who were also the customers.

In my view, shared infrastructure should start with passive infrastructure: trenches, ducts, towers, poles and cables. We should leave the service providers to compete in using the best equipment and other things required to provide services to the end users. They should be allowed to innovate without any constraints.

For 4G and 5G or any other wireless services, the spectrum is a limited resource. It should be allocated equally to qualified service providers. The number of service providers should be limited so that the use of the spectrum can be optimised for high quality services.

The allocated spectrum should be for own use and not for leasing to others. Businesses based on spectrum trading should be prohibited as it is a national resource.

For 5G, only fibres and towers or poles should be shared and operated by an independent party (preferably government-owned, not-for-profit, professionally run and financially self-sustainable). This can be made mandatory since 5G is a new initiative. Shared radio facilities could be optional.

However, the shared fibres should not be used for 5G services only. They can be used for any other services – wired or wireless – thus reducing broadband cost while improving the quality.


Kuala Lumpur

Note: The writer is the former CEO of Jaring, Malaysia’s first Internet service provider

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