Malaysia’s 5G connectivity has become a hot topic in recent weeks, with telcos finally getting along with the government’s controversial plan for them to purchase a stake in wholesale network operator Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB). While many more Malaysians will at last experience faster mobile Internet, the reality is that it’s gonna take a while for 5G to reach a majority of citizens, with DNB only expecting to hit 40% coverage by the end of the year.
The firm’s next focus appears to be in Kota Bharu in Kelantan, where it plans to implement wider 5G access as early as next year, Bernama reported. Communications and Multimedia Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa said the priority was given based on several development projects being implemented in the state.
“Strategically, Kelantan will be developed as an important logistics hub in the eastern region and will become an international logistics service provider, thus creating job opportunities,” he said. “Kelantan needs to create job opportunities and I have consulted with Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB), including requesting that Kelantan be placed as a priority state for 5G broadband services immediately.”
According to Annuar, the DNB agreed with this assertion and will begin developing 5G services in the state immediately, as well as holding negotiations to connect 5G tower sites being carried out in Kota Bharu. This process is expected to be completed in another two to three months, which means it could be finished early next year.
Annuar added that 5G connectivity will provide Kelantan with the foundation it needs to create a regional logistics hub not only within the state, but also one that extends to neighbouring Thailand. To clarify, Kelantan already has 5G connectivity, as DNB has installed towers in Peringat and Ketereh, the latter being Annuar’s parliamentary constituency.
“The 5G towers in Peringat and Ketereh have already started working, but the telcos given the service will only do the roll out next month,” he said. “At this time, it has been reported to me that usage of about seven to 10 gigabits has been used every day, which means that many people are already using it, just be reminded to make sure that the gadget used is a 5G gadget.”
Annuar said DNB has selected main towns in the Kota Bharu district outside of the capital, namely Kok Lanas, Melor, Peringat and Kadok, to speed up the supply of 5G technology, adding that those sites could receive the service as soon as February.
“A total of 10 sites were carried out immediately, especially the Peringat area and the focus is now on preparing for the entire area, including near Kem Desa Pahlawan in Kok Lanas because it is important for military use,” he said. “We are asking DNB to hurry up, in addition to instructing them to build towers in the Ketereh, Peringat and Kok Lanas areas which should be completed by the end of next year but have been accelerated and are expected to be completed by February.”
Kelantan needs quality broadband services to attract investment, particularly from abroad, Annuar claimed. He added that the industry is starting to use technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), internet office, robotics, facial recognition and artificial intelligence, which require 5G and are “highly needed by young people.”
The implementation of 5G in Kelantan is part of DNB’s plan to expand the 5G network to 80% by 2024. With the investments being made by Celcom, Digi, YTL Communications and Telekom Malaysia by purchasing a stake in the firm, it will spend RM1.3 billion to expand the network to 70% of heavily populated areas, as outlined in the tabling of Budget 2023 earlier this month.
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