Malaysian telcos agree to acquire stakes in 5G operator DNB

Malaysia telco

Malaysia’s main mobile operators decided to acquire stakes in the state-owned wholesale 5G operator, Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB), the government said in a statement.

The government confirmed that Malaysia’s 5G Network Implementation Task Force has successfully reached an agreement on equity participation in DNB with local carriers Celcom Digi, Maxis, Telekom Malaysia, U-Mobile and YTL Communications.

The government didn’t provided details of the stakes each operator agreed to take in DNB. The government also said that DNB already covered 64.7% of populated areas with 5G as of the end of June.

Maxis has recently started the process of signing a 5G access agreement with DNB, paving the way for Maxis customers to start having access to 5G services once shareholder approval is obtained at the company’s extraordinary general meeting next month.

Celcom Digi, Telekom Malaysia, U-Mobile, and YTL Communications had already started offering 5G services after they signed 5G access agreement with DNB last in 2022.

DNB was set up by the Malaysian government in 2021 as a special purpose vehicle to develop the country’s 5G network infrastructure, which private telecommunications firms would use to offer 5G services to their customers.

However, Malaysia’s 5G roll-out by DNB had raised concerns over pricing and transparency, as well as worries that a single state-run 5G network would result in a nationalized monopoly.

Due to these concerns, the new prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim, had previously announced an overall review of the rollout of the national 5G network due to the lack of transparency. In May, the government announced it will enable the deployment of a second 5G network in 2024, adding that a new entity will be created to manage Malaysia’s second 5G network.

Malaysia’s Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil recently said that DNB will continue to roll out 5G network infrastructure in the country until 80% coverage is achieved by the end of this year. The Malaysian government also confirmed that DNB will be taken over by a private entity once it achieves its 5G population coverage target.