Malaysian state agency Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB) has announced it will offer free wholesale 5G services to mobile carriers during the country’s initial rollout, which is set to begin next week. The news comes following concerns from operators over its pricing plans.
The DNB is a government agency that has been tasked with building and managing Malaysia’s 5G network. However, according to a Reuters report, published last month, the agency hasn’t signed any long-term deals with any mobile operators yet, due to concerns over pricing and transparency issues.
“The target now is to have a live network, covering… a total of 500 sites by the end of December, with at least some operators on board to provide a 5G network to end-users,” DNB Chief Technology Officer Ken Tan said recently.
Indeed, operators who had already invested in network infrastructure upgrades to support the move to 5G services, are concerned the country’s 5G network plan would result in a nationalised monopoly. If this were to happen their businesses would be hit and access to future technology would be limited.
Telecos have said that the proposed pricing plan could end up costing them more than they would have paid if they introduced 5G technology on their own. This is because the plan failed to acknowledge additional requirements related to issues such as traffic volume and contingency costs.
Free 5G services
DNB in a statement said that 5G services will be commercially available from December 15 in three central areas of Malaysia, including parts of the capital, Kuala Lumpur. The agency said it would provide free 5G services to all operators integrated into its network – from now until March 31, as it looks to sign wholesale agreements with carriers early next year.
Operators that sign up to DNB’s wholesale plan before the free period ends on March 31 will receive further free access to all additional 5G capacity during the initial period of the 5G network rollout.
A public document containing the details of the DNB’s 5G wholesale model, including pricing and service commitments, is due to be approved by Malaysia’s communications regulator soon.
DNB’s Chief Operating Officer, Dushyan Vaithiyanathan, earlier said the plan would likely cost only around 16.5 billion ringgit, which is around half the 30-35 billion ringgit carriers would have needed to spend to build the 5G network themselves. On Saturday, Telekom Malaysia became the first operator to sign up for their 5G trials.