Following the publication of Digital Nasional Berhad’s (DNB) Reference Access Offer (RAO), the big four telcos namely Celcom, Digi, Maxis and U Mobile (MNOs) have jointly issued a statement to raise concerns about the current 5G wholesale development. At the moment, the four telcos have yet to agree on the key terms in the RAO document which is a key step before discussions on commercial Access Agreements can commence.
The statement reads, “The MNOs are of the view that a majority of concerns and issues previously raised and discussed with MCMC and DNB have not yet been adequately addressed in the current document, including key principles proposed for the RAO to be consistent with industry best practices. As a result, the RAO in its current published form will not enable affordable and quality 5G services for the rakyat and businesses in Malaysia, and will impede the acceleration of 5G services and penetration in the country.”
At the moment, the telcos are still in discussions with MCMC to seek more clarity on some of the details in the published RAO. It also clarified that a recent analyst report suggested that open topics between DNB and DNB’s key prospective customers had been resolved is inaccurate.
The joint statement also emphasised that the big four telcos remain committed to continued discussions with MCMC and the industry on the RAO, and they look forward to playing an active role in 5G implementation in line with the nation’s digital ambitions.
The latest developments are seen as another setback for mass 5G availability in Malaysia. Without the big four, Yes is still the only operator to offer 5G services in the country. The telcos have proposed to develop another 5G network alongside DNB, however, the government had decided to proceed with DNB as a single wholesale network (SWN). In an attempt to resolve the stalemate, the government has offered to reduce its stake in DNB to 30%, to allow telcos to take up a 70% equity.
DNB has recently published its RAO on its website which outlines the access pricing as well as the terms and conditions of using its 5G network. The 5G wholesale capacity pricing will cost telcos RM30,000 per Gbps on a monthly basis for the first 1,200Gbps, while subsequent capacity will be charged at RM22,000 per Gbps.
In terms of deliverables, the RAO states that DNB has set a target of 99.0% for Data Session Setup Success Rate and a Latency of less than 15ms from the User Equipment (UE) to the Point of Interface (POI). The KPI also listed a Mean User Downlink Throughput of 100Mbps and a Mean User Uplink Throughput of 3Mbps for Non-standalone 5G architecture (NSA) or 5Mbps for Standalone 5G architecture (SA).
DNB has insisted that telcos will pay much less for 5G data than what they are currently spending for 4G on their existing network. Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul had also said that DNB will charge telcos less than 20 sen per GB for 5G data, which he said is cheaper than telco’s 4G data cost of 45 to 55 sen per GB. He estimated that each telco would pay DNB about RM400 million per year which is lower than RM1 billion invested by telcos yearly on their current 4G network.
In an interview with The Star last year, DNB CEO Ralph Marshall revealed the total cost of 5G rollout is RM16.5 billion and it may swell to RM20 billion between 2025 and 2030 to anticipate any significant increase in capacity demand in the future.
Malaysia’s decision to deploy 5G via an SWN is seen as a risky approach as the model has seen very little success in other countries. Recently, the South African government officially scrapped plans to launch a wholesale open-access network and has opted to auction out its 4G and 5G spectrum.
To bring you up to speed on Malaysia’s 5G journey so far, you can check out our recap video below:
- 5G in Malaysia: Why are we so far behind?
- DNB publishes Reference Access Offer, 5G wholesale to cost telcos RM30K per Gbps monthly
- Celcom, Digi, Maxis and U Mobile are open to take equity stake in DNB via Mergers and Acquisitions process
- DNB extends free 5G network access to telcos until 30 June, encourages big four telcos to sign up