Talks for Malaysia’s 5G rollout began as early as late 2018, just months after the country held its 13th general election. A task force was set up, and testbed demonstrations were launched in 2019. The public perception was that this would go the same way 3G and 4G networks were implemented—via a non-auction award mechanism, or ‘ beauty contest beauty contest Spectrum assignments through tender or beauty contests enable the government to award bandwidth with a set price. The official justification for this is so that charges for mobile users can remain affordable.
A game of monopoly
Concerns abound around Malaysia’s monopolistic 5G rollout
In a move to accelerate the growth of the country’s digital economy, Malaysia has opted to roll out 5G via a Single Wholesale Network model. It’s probably the world’s first but it also comes with a string of complexities and execution risks
In February, Malaysia announced to the world that it would employ a highly controversial method to roll out 5G across the country
Called the Single Wholesale Network, the Malaysian government would be the licensed sole network provider to deploy 5G infrastructure and network for a decade
Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB), a special purpose vehicle set up by the government, is tasked to undertake the deployment. The narrative is that this rollout method will significantly reduce heavy and duplicative capex by telcos
But telcos are more worried than relieved. Execution risks aside, they are concerned that the government-owned DNB might encroach on their enterprise solutions pie