Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin has said that Malaysia’s 4G nationwide coverage has now reached 96%. He added that the country expects to achieve full 4G coverage within two years.
In an effort to improve connectivity, he said there are various issues that need to be tackled when it comes to the construction of new towers as it involves landowners and state governments. He urges the people to be patient and to give some time to the government to work on improving connectivity, especially in rural areas. The Deputy Minister also told reporters that once all areas have reached 4G, they will try to upgrade the coverage to 5G.
JENDELA targets 96.9% 4G coverage by end 2022
Under the current JENDELA plan, Malaysia aims to achieve 96.96% 4G coverage with an average mobile speed of 35Mbps by the end of 2022. As of 31st March 2021, Malaysia’s national 4G coverage stood at 93.77%. To measure mobile speeds, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) relies on data from Ookla, the company behind speedtest.net.
According to Ookla’s latest report for August 2021, Malaysia’s average mobile speed is 29.14Mbps for download and 10.87Mbps for upload. Globally, Malaysia is ranked at #89, which is lower than the Philippines at #73 (33.77Mbps), Vietnam at #57 (41.15Mbps), Thailand at #50 (49.37Mbps), Brunei at #36 (61.85Mbps) and Singapore at #18 (91.75Mbps).
Ramping up 4G coverage is crucial especially with the upcoming 3G shutdown that’s happening at the end of this year. Users of 3G devices are urged to switch to newer 4G phones with VoLTE while telcos have to ensure that there are enough 4G sites to cover the coverage gap.
What’s going on with Malaysia’s 5G rollout?
When it comes to 5G, the Malaysian government has assigned the 5G spectrum to Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB), a special purpose vehicle under the purview of the Ministry of Finance. Instead of awarding spectrum directly to telcos, existing 4G telcos will have to gain access to the 5G network through a wholesale agreement with DNB. With this approach, there’s no differentiation for coverage and telcos would have to compete based on price and bundling.
DNB has appointed Ericsson as its sole 5G vendor and it aims to launch commercial 5G services by the end of this year starting with Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Cyberjaya. 5 major cities and districts in Selangor, Pulau Pinang, Johor, Sabah and Sarawak are expected to get 5G coverage in 2022.
With 3 months left in the year, there isn’t much updates on Malaysia’s commercial 5G deployment. GSMA Intelligence has recently raised concerns about Malaysia’s 5G rollout through a single wholesale network (SWN). It highlighted that the single network approach is risky and existing SWN deployments in other countries have failed including Mexico, Belarus, and Rwanda.
DT Economics mengemukakan 8 risiko berkait dengan Digital National Berhad (DNB), berdasarkan pembelajaran daripada 4 ‘case study’ termasuk cadangan strategi untuk mengurangkan risiko. InshAllah saya dan warga KKMM akan meneliti secara menyeluruh. pic.twitter.com/PDppRZCHDj— Annuar Musa (@AnnuarMusa) September 3, 2021
The new Communications and Multimedia Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa has recently attended a webinar organised by GSMA on Advancing Digital Malaysia which highlighted major risks associated with DNB supported by several case studies from other SWN deployments. The Minister had tweeted that his ministry will look into the SWN approach for Malaysia. It isn’t clear if the current administration would change its 5G approach by allowing telcos to deploy their own 5G network. If telcos are given the spectrum to deploy 5G, this may spur competition when it comes to coverage and network quality.
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