During the tabling of Budget 2023, Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul revealed that Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB) will be spending RM1.3 billion next year to achieve 70% 5G population coverage. Since it was announced as part of the budget, there were questions about whether DNB would be using public funds to deploy the 5G network as it has been mentioned several times before that DNB will be funded by the private sector with no government funding or guarantees.
According to DNB, it is inaccurate to say that the government has allocated RM1.3 billion to the single wholesale network. During the tabling of the budget, the government either announces initiatives or allocations, and DNB’s rollout falls under the former category.
DNB reiterates that the 5G rollout will be funded via private sector financing with no budgetary allocation by the government. It clarified that they have not received any allocation under Budget 2022 and they have also not received any allocation under the upcoming Budget 2023 announced recently.
The national 5G network is estimated to cost RM16.5 billion over 10 years and they aim to achieve 80% 5G population coverage by the end of 2024. DNB is adopting a cost recovery and supply-driven approach to accelerate its implementation of the 5G network.
As of 30th September 2022, DNB has deployed 1,915 out of the planned 3,518 5G sites for 2022 and it has 33.2% 5G coverage in populated areas nationwide. It aims to achieve 37.9% 5G population by the end of this year. From the recent JENDELA Q3 update, DNB has rolled out a total of 259 sites in Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Sabah and Sarawak, but none of them was live yet.
At the moment, the 5G network is currently live in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Cyberjaya, Selangor, Johor, Penang and selected areas of Perak and Kelantan. YTL Communications CEO Wing K Lee shared recently that the network has achieved 90% 5G population coverage in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Cyberjaya.
YTL Communications’ Yes 5G remains the only telco to offer commercial 5G services in Malaysia. Celcom, Digi, Telekom Malaysia and YTL Communications have recently signed their Share Subscription Agreement to take an accumulative 65% equity stake in DNB. In order to offer commercial 5G access to consumers, the telcos have to execute their respective Access Agreements by the end of this month.
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