LIVE FROM MOBILE 360 DIGITAL SOCIETIES, KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia-based Digi and Maxis detailed plans to increase infrastructure sharing to prepare for 5G, as they begin field trials and raise capex to support the new technology.

Digi CEO Albern Murty (pictured, right) explained it is taking a step-by-step approach and looking at an initial business 5G launch in Q4 2020. It is conducting field trials in a few locations and opened access for use as a lab for start-ups.

He noted the limitation for 5G in Malaysia is not spectrum, but the lack of clear business cases.

In countries where 5G has launched, he said it’s being used for the same services that run on 4G. “It’s games and video. We need to think about what we will use it for. And then how do we take it out to the community, both businesses and consumers. Those are the critical decisions we need to make before we roll it out.”

Maxis CEO Gokhan Ogut (pictured, right) said LTE helped fuel Malaysia’s economic growth, but believes it is “time to take the next step, which requires not just 4G connectivity, but larger bandwidth, faster speed and lower latency”.

He applauded recent moves by Malaysia’s telecoms regulator including a national fibre and connectivity plan, along with the establishment of a 5G task force, to prepare for the next stage of growth in the country.

“This is where fibre and 5G come into play,” he added, noting over the next three years Maxis plans to allocate additional capital for 5G and fibre buildouts.

More sharing
Murty noted mobile operators in the country have shared space on sites for a long time, but cautioned taking the next step in sharing “will be painful”, but necessary “as we don’t want to duplicate investments in the same places”.

He added the move will be beneficial as it is faster and more efficient, “so we are working on moving to the next phase of sharing”.

Ogut agreed that while there are different levels of partnerships, more collaboration at the infrastructure level is required, not just to share the costs but also to accelerate rollouts.

He also sees the need for more industry collaboration on creating new services to accelerate the journey to a digital society.