Malaysia is 5G Ready
Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB) is ramping up to bring Malaysia’s 5G network online on 15th December 2021 and commencing the commercial availability of 5G in the country. Coverage will be rolled out on an accelerated schedule starting with Putrajaya, Cyberjaya and parts of Kuala Lumpur in December 2021. Thereafter, 5G coverage will extend to 80% of populated areas by end-2024.
DNB is engaged in regular discussions with the domestic telecommunications industry; in an effort to provide 5G experiences to end users, DNB will be offering wholesale 5G services AT NO COST to all MNOs that are integrated into the DNB network. This offer is applicable for all 5G live sites that will be ready throughout Putrajaya, Cyberjaya and parts of Kuala Lumpur by 31st December 2021. The offer lasts until 31st March 2022.
It is expected that MNOs will make available 5G services to all their customers with compatible devices within coverage areas. Meanwhile, the Reference Access Offer (RAO) – having taken into account extensive feedback from industry – is expected to be approved by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) in the near term.
Upon approval of the RAO, DNB looks to final negotiations with MNOs on signing the long-term Wholesale Agreements. Those MNOs that enter into the Wholesale Agreement before 31st March 2022 will receive further free access to all additional 5G capacity as sites go live in the period up to 31st March 2022.
End users with 5G-compatible devices will be able to enjoy speeds of 100 Mbps and above. This means a user at the weakest point of 5G coverage would experience 100 Mbps on a 5G-compatible device.
Crucially, DNB will provide wholesale 5G services to the MNOs at a significantly lower cost than their present cost to produce 4G capacity. MNOs should therefore be able to offer lower prices to their customers for mobile services (particularly mobile broadband), which will include 5G services.
The availability of 5G services opens up new and exciting innovations, with vastly improved connectivity speeds able to support use cases around the streaming and downloading of 8K quality video content, cloud-based gaming, as well as AR/VR content.
Meanwhile, as a provider of wholesale 5G services, DNB would like to stress that it will not be competing with the industry in providing 5G retail services to end users. Instead, DNB is complementing efforts by the MNOs with a view to accelerating adoption of 5G in the country. End users are encouraged to contact their respective service providers to enquire about 5G availability.
Malaysia’s 5G Rollout: A Technical Brief
- In February 2021, the government, in recognition of the importance of growing Malaysia’s digital economy, launched the Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint (MyDIGITAL).
- A critical component of delivering on the long-term goals set out in the Blueprint is the availability of high quality 5G coverage. This resulted in the establishment of DNB in March 2021.
- DNB was established to pursue the following objectives:
- Accelerate deployment of the 5G network and infrastructure in Malaysia
- Realise the potential of 5G in Malaysia to spur economic activity
- Narrow the urban-rural digital divide and improve the current state of infrastructure
- Avoid duplication of infrastructure and optimise the use of scarce resources
- Promote service-based competition within the communications industry
- DNB will be deploying Malaysia’s 5G network and infrastructure on an accelerated schedule, with the target of hitting 80% coverage by 2024. DNB will be able to offer 5G wholesale services to telcos at a significantly lower cost than the present cost of 4G.
- Both the cost efficiencies and accelerated rollout are made possible because DNB was provided with an excellent business model thanks to the Government’s foresight – one that leverages the full capabilities of the 5G spectrum to maximise speed and quality of service, with an added emphasis on the sharing of existing infrastructure.
- DNB has adopted what is known as a 5G Multi-Operator Core Network (MOCN) technology, which allows multiple telcos to effectively integrate with DNB’s 5G Radio Access Network (RAN).
- An increasingly common rollout strategy, the MOCN model is a global telecommunications standard defined by the 3GPP, that allows a single network infrastructure or “Radio Access Network” (RAN) (which is the case with DNB) to be shared and connected to multiple MNO Core Networks.
- In the past, each MNO would deploy its own individual infrastructure based on a certain allocation of available spectrum by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).
- To use an analogy, the government in the past had allocated individual lanes (spectrum) to each MNO. Based on the lanes provisioned by the government, the MNOs would then build their own separate highways (network and infrastructure) for their users.
- However, with vastly increased data demands within the country in recent years, these individual highways can be prone to congestion. Meanwhile, users on one highway are unable to get onto another, less congested highway.
- In the case of 5G, the MCMC has provided all the available lanes (5G spectrum) to DNB allowing DNB to build a single, seamless “superhighway” that is both secured and adaptable as the peak can be managed across all of DNB’s customers.
- This 5G superhighway entails the rollout of a single seamless infrastructure – comprising of the radio unit, power, and fiber connectivity – which will serve all MNOs equally, on a wholesale basis.
- Thanks to this pooling of 5G spectrum with DNB, as well as the much-reduced need for duplicate sites and infrastructure, DNB is in a position to deploy the 5G network on an accelerated schedule i.e. just five months between the appointment of the Network Equipment Provider Ericsson on 1st July 2021, to 5G service availability commencing on 15th December 2021.