Malaysia’s 5G SPV is Digital Nasional Berhad, Ralph Marshall appointed as CEO

The Ministry of Finance has officially announced Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB) as the government’s Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to drive the development of 5G in Malaysia. As mentioned during the launch of MyDigital, Malaysia will deploy 5G via a single government entity instead of auctioning spectrum to telcos.

According to the official statement, Augustus Ralph Marshall (former top executive from Astro and Maxis) is appointed as the Chief Executive Officer and Dato’ Asri Hamidon (Secretary-General of the Treasury at The Ministry of Finance) will serve as the chairman of the board. Other board of directors include Datuk Seri Dr. Yusof bin Ismail (Director General of MAMPU), Dato’ Mohamed Sharil Tarmizi (former MCMC Chairman) and Dato’ Muthanna Abdullah.

The Ministry of Finance said they have appointed a combination of professionals that are specialised in various sectors including public finance, telecommunications enforcement, information technology, telecommunications and law, which will offer the right combination of skills and experience to build and manage Malaysia’s 5G network for commercial use. Other senior management appointments at DNB will be announced later.

DNB will offer 5G services through a wholesale agreement which promises to offer greater transparency and implementation. It will be managed based on the right governance framework, open tender process for 5G infrastructure development as well as global best practices. DNB will ensure that all telecommunications service providers will gain open and fair access to the 5G network to develop retail services based on 5G.

Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul said it is crucial that Malaysia launch its 5G network immediately through a systematic and professional approach to drive national growth initiatives through MyDigital. This is to ensure socio-economic progress and inclusiveness for all Malaysians.

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To achieve the country’s 5G aspirations, the government hopes to work closely with the private sector in the domestic telecommunications industry. With DNB focusing on 5G infrastructure investment, the private sector players can focus on delivering their products and services without being burdened by large investments or capital expenditures. This approach is said to benefit all parties including the telcos, businesses and consumers with the aim of delivering 5G by the end of 2021.

As mentioned previously, the 5G deployment will require an investment of RM15 billion across 10 years. It is said that the amount will be funded by the private sector but there are no further details at the moment.

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Alexander Wong