It has been widely reported that YTL Communications (YTL) and Telekom Malaysia (TM) have agreed to take up Digital Nasional Berhad’s (DNB) 5G access offer but YTL’s Yes 5G remains the first and only telco to provide actual 5G services to consumers. Back in December 2021, TM was the first to announce that it will start 5G pilot trials with Unifi Mobile customers. However, six months later, they have yet to introduce a single consumer 5G product.
In January, TM’s Unifi Mobile page previously indicated that Unifi Mobile postpaid customers can experience 5G in February 2022. Shortly after that, the tentative target date was removed and replaced with “soon”.
We’ve reached out to the telecommunications giant and they told us “TM is progressing forward with our commercial arrangement with DNB and aligning the launch with our stakeholders with wider 5G coverage soon. At the moment, we are working on the commercial trials with DNB. Ensuring excellent customer experience is our main focus when we roll out the service.”
When it comes to 5G access with DNB, the spotlight is often on the big four telcos – Celcom, Digi, Maxis and U Mobile, that have been relunctant to sign up with the state-owned single wholesale network. The big four have jointly issued a statement highlighting that the current Reference Access Offer (RAO) by DNB does not ensure affordable and quality 5G services to the rakyat. Some of the major concerns include wholesale pricing that’s tied to 10 years and the lack of a regulatory framework to manage a single wholesale network.
Turns out that TM also has yet to sign a commercial 5G wholesale access agreement with DNB. In a response to our queries, they said “TM remain committed in providing 5G services for our nation and we fully support the Government’s initiative for the roll out. We have a 3-prong approach when it comes to 5G implementation (1) our role as shareholder, (2) role as fibre provider and (3) launch of our own value adding 5G solutions for our customers.”
It added, “At the present time, we are assessing and working on concluding our negotiations with DNB to meet the deadline set by DNB. Further updates will be provided nearer to the date.”
The recent commercial signing that was announced publicly between TM and DNB is the RM2 billion fibre leasing deal for 5G deployment. TM has not made any announcement about acquiring an equity stake in DNB. Following the government’s decision to stick to a single wholesale model, the big four telcos said they are open to the equity stake proposal but it has to be done through a Mergers and Acquisitions process.
Communications and Multimedia Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa recently said if the number of telcos participating with DNB is not enough, he would issue licences to new players. Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul told Singapore’s Straits Times in an interview that the deadline for telcos to sign up and take equity in DNB remains on 30th June but it can be extended to no later than early July if necessary. He said the interest of the country should take precedence over the narrow commercial interests of telcos in the matter of implementing 5G.
- Tengku Zafrul on 5G: Malaysia’s interests more important than telcos’ commercial needs
- While Malaysia’s 5G is still up in the air, Thailand leads 5G availability in the region
- Annuar Musa wants to issue licences to new players if telcos refuse to sign up for DNB’s 5G access
- Five reasons why Celcom, Digi, Maxis and U Mobile are reluctant to accept DNB’s 5G access offer