Malaysia's telcos call for dual wholesale network, but decline to share details

Malaysia's telcos call for dual wholesale network, but decline to share details
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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 18): Four mobile network operators (MNOs) — Celcom Axiata Bhd, Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd, Maxis Bhd and U Mobile Sdn Bhd — have recommended that the government allow a dual wholesale network (DWN) model which will be developed and operated by two consortiums involving the government, Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB), and MNOs who are ready to invest.

In a joint statement on Friday (Feb 18), the companies said they have submitted their proposal for the establishment of DWN.

“We see the DWN model as a feasible option that leverages MNOs' capabilities, existing resources, including infrastructure, supply chain and the experience of thousands of Malaysian technical talents. We are committed and we look forward to playing our part in realising the long-term sustainable benefits to the nation, a win-win solution for the government, rakyat and the industry,” they added.

"Taking this opportunity, we would like to express once again our full support towards the government’s agenda through the MyDigital initiative and the development of the digital economy in Malaysia where 5G networks are among the critical infrastructure," said the telcos.

Without sharing details in the statement, they said the telecommunications industry has been in discussions with the government and has provided views and facts directly with regards to the matter.

“Taking this opportunity, we would like to express once again our full support towards the government’s agenda through the MyDigital initiative and the development of the digital economy in Malaysia where 5G networks are among the critical infrastructure.

“As the matter will be tabled to the Cabinet, as announced by our Minister of Communications and Multimedia, we will respectfully wait for the decision from the government,” they stated.

Kenanga Research sees downside earnings risks for MNOs over the next three to five years if the government opts for a single wholesale network (SWN) model, as MNOs may have to pay upfront wholesale costs to DNB, even if they are slow to monetise 5G services, according to the research outfit note on Monday (Feb 14).

Noting that there is no clear guidance on when the government's final decision on the model to be adopted for the nationwide 5G network roll-out will be announced, Kenanga expects it to take place in either February or March.

On Feb 7, Dr Ong Kian Ming, member of Parliament for Bangi and assistant political education director for the Democratic Action Party, has listed 15 questions pertaining to DNB's 5G rollout.

DNB is a special-purpose vehicle under the Ministry of Finance that is wholly responsible for the 5G infrastructure.

Ong had also written an open letter containing 10 questions addressed to MNOs over the 5G rollout.

Read also:
Single wholesale network model presents downside risks to telcos' profitability — Kenanga 
DNB's Ralph Marshall responds to Ong Kian Ming's questions on 5G rollout 
Ong Kian Ming’s open letter to mobile network operators in Malaysia on 5G rollout

Lam Jian Wyn