Malaysia to end 5G monopoly, allow second network from 2024

  • Malaysia said on 3 May it will adopt a dual network model for its 5G rollout next year following widespread concerns about pricing and competition over a single state-run network.
  • The decision is the latest by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s six-month-old administration aimed at dismantling monopolies and promoting competition, though it could create tension with Western countries that wanted Malaysia to stick with its original plan.
  • Malaysia had in 2021 unveiled a plan for a state-owned agency, Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB), to own the full 5G spectrum, with various carriers using the infrastructure to provide mobile services.
  • Malaysia has now decided to allow a second entity after DNB’s coverage reaches 80% of populated areas, Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil said in a statement.
  • On 2 May, the European Union and the U.S. had warned Malaysia of risks to national security and foreign investment amidst efforts by China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd to bid for a role in its telecoms infrastructure.
  • Fahmi told a press conference he would meet interested diplomats to discuss the issue, and Malaysia would be “neutral” in commercial considerations.
  • “As a sovereign country, Malaysia has the right and power to set our own policies without the interference of other parties,” Fahmi said.

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