Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB) has announced that its network is ready to offer 5G services starting next Wednesday, 15th December 2021. Before the commercial agreement with telcos is signed, DNB is offering free wholesale 5G services to all mobile network operators in Malaysia until 31st March 2022. The free access offer is only applicable for all 5G live sites that will be ready in Putrajaya, Cyberjaya and select areas of Kuala Lumpur by 31st December 2021.
At the time of writing, TM is the only telco that has confirmed its participation in the 5G user trial. According to TM, Unifi Mobile Postpaid customers with compatible 5G devices will be able to experience 5G services. Other telcos including Celcom, Digi, Maxis, U Mobile and YTL have yet to make an announcement.
According to DNB, the Reference Access Offer (RAO) is nearing completion and it is expected to be approved by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) taking into account feedback from the industry. After approval, it will aim to finalise negotiations with the telcos on signing the long-term wholesale agreement which is expected to be settled by end of March 2022.
It was previously reported by Reuters that telcos were reluctant to sign the wholesale agreement due to transparency and pricing issues. DNB said the report was inaccurate as telcos could only sign after the RAO is finalised.
DNB added that telcos that enter the wholesale agreement before 31st March 2022 will receive further free access to all additional 5G capacity as more sites go live in the period up to 31st March 2022. DNB promised that users with 5G-compatible devices will enjoy a minimum of 100Mbps downloads at the weakest point of coverage.
During the media preview held at Putrajaya this morning, DNB’s 5G network was able to deliver download speeds between 800-927Mbps, upload speeds between 109-145Mbps, and latency of 10-29ms. The test was conducted with various SIMs including Maxis, Digi, Celcom, U Mobile, Unifi and YTL.
As a state-owned single wholesale network, DNB says it will be able to provide wholesale 5G services to telcos at a significantly lower cost than their present cost to provide 4G services on their own network. As a result, it said telcos will be able to offer lower mobile subscriptions to their customers which will include 5G services. It also added that DNB will not compete with telcos in providing 5G retail services and they will be focusing on complementing their efforts by accelerating 5G adoption in the country.
DNB is currently aiming to switch on a total of 500 sites to cover 10% of Malaysia’s population with 5G with coverage in Putrajaya, Cyberjaya and Kuala Lumpur by 31st December 2021. In 2022, it aims to hit 40% 5G population coverage covering Penang, Johor, Sabah, Sarawak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and Perak with a total of 4,018 sites. Leveraging existing infrastructure and implementing a single network, DNB has an ambitious goal of achieving 80% 5G population coverage by 2024 and for Malaysia to have the 2nd highest 5G penetration in the region.
Unlike existing mobile networks, DNB is the sole network provider for 5G and all telcos will offer retail 5G services through a wholesale agreement. DNB has been assigned the 700MHz, 3.5GHz, and 26/28GHz spectrum to offer 5G services, and they have appointed Ericsson as their 5G vendor. To deploy 5G in a cost-effective manner, DNB is adopting a Multi-Operator Core Network (MOCN) model where several telcos can provide 5G services from a shared tower, spectrum, base station, and backhaul to reduce duplication of networks.