Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB) has announced that it has exceeded its 2022 5G rollout target of 40% 5G population. It claims to have achieved close to 50% population coverage with 3,900 sites deployed as of 31st December 2022.
According to DNB, they are now focused on delivering its committed target of 80% 5G population target by end of 2024, if not earlier. At the moment, it claims that the network has reached some 15 million people in Malaysia nationwide, and it will cover more than 30 million people and businesses once the network is fully deployed.
Based on their breakdown, the 5G network now has 47.1% coverage of populated areas nationwide which include over 97% of populated areas in Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, close to 90% of populated areas in Selangor and about 50% of populated areas across Johor, Malacca and Negeri Sembilan. It has coverage in all 13 states and 2 Federal Territories (Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya).
In East Malaysia, it has 32.4% 5G population coverage in Sarawak and 27.9% 5G population coverage in Sabah. The 5G coverage is still quite limited in Kedah, Kelantan, Terengganu and Perlis, with less than 15% of the population covered.
Commenting on the milestone, DNB COO Nasution Mohamad said “Having exceeded our 2022 network coverage target, we are working closely with both our Mobile Network Operator (MNO) partners and device manufacturers to promote and encourage the rapid adoption of 5G nationwide in 2023. The MNOs have introduced numerous 5G data plans for their customers at very attractive retail prices, so as to encourage adoption of 5G services.”
DNB has seen a surge of 5G uptake after all telcos except Maxis have enabled 5G services for their subscribers. Daily 5G usage have spiked from 32TB to 253TB, with a peak of 90,000 concurrent users as of 31st December 2022. DNB currently claims to offer an average download speed of 380Mbps versus 35Mbps on current 4G networks.
Maxis is expected to sign the 5G access agreement with DNB after it obtains shareholders’ agreement sometime this month.
A few weeks ago, Apple has pushed its iOS 16.2 update which enables 5G for iPhone 12 and above for partner telcos that have signed up with DNB. iPhone users on Celcom, Digi and U Mobile are able to enjoy 5G if they are subscribed to a 5G-enabled plan.
DNB’s technology partner Ericsson said last month that Malaysia’s 5G deployment is one of the fastest in the world having only commenced 5G deployment in October 2021. Although DNB has a higher claimed 5G population coverage, it has deployed about 118 fewer sites than the original target of 4,018 sites by the end of last year.
DNB explained that the reduced site count is a result of supply chain issues earlier last year and delays in securing necessary local council approvals primarily in Selangor and Sarawak. To make up for the shortfall, DNB redirected its deployment efforts to other states which were initially intended for 2023 and beyond.
After the change of government, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has called for a review of the current 5G deployment via DNB. Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil has assured that the current 5G deployment will continue as planned while the government assess the current deployment and its options.
UPDATE: DNB has provided an updated table which has no coverage for Labuan at the moment.