KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) : Two Malaysian opposition lawmakers on Thursday called on the government to review plans for a state-owned 5G network, after Reuters reported a negotiations deadlock between telecom firms and the state agency handling the network’s deployment.
According to the report on Wednesday, none of Malaysia’s major mobile operators have signed up to the government’s 5G network yet ahead of a rollout planned for next month, citing pricing and transparency issues.
The impasse comes after the government in February set up an agency to build a centralised wholesale 5G network, abandoning earlier plans to apportion spectrum to carriers, in a bid to accelerate infrastructure buildup nationwide.
Lawmaker Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh said the Reuters report underscored existing concerns and doubts over the initiative, and called on authorities to be more open and transparent in its dealings on the project.
“With this development, the government must review the single network wholesaler model… and not rush into (the project) without a thorough negotiation process with telecommunications companies,” he told a news conference at parliament.
Any delay in the rollout risked having a negative impact on mobile customer services, foreign investment and Malaysia’s digitalisation efforts in the future, he added.
Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB), the state-owned network wholesaler, had told Reuters it still hoped to deploy 5G services with some operators on board in three urban centres next month, with long-term agreements to be signed in early 2022.
Another lawmaker, Fahmi Fadzil, went one step further and called on the government to “cancel the monopoly” held by DNB, saying that Malaysia risked being left behind by its Southeast Asian neighbours which have already launched 5G services.
“The basic question that must be asked in parliament is who benefits from this implementation model,” he said.