The GSMA called on the Malaysian government to follow a set of specific recommendations to ensure the success of a proposed Single Wholesale Network (SWN) for 5G, as the industry association highlighted the pitfalls of the model, including potential risk to the nation’s thriving mobile economy.
Citing a report it commissioned from DT Economics, which assessed the Malaysian government’s plan to deploy a 5G network through special purpose vehicle Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB), the GSMA offered various recommendations.
These include clarifying DNB’s mandate and regularly monitoring its performance against its strategic objectives; introducing a fit for purpose wholesale regulatory regime alongside the special purpose vehicle; and retaining flexibility to allow alternative delivery options for 5G networks and services in Malaysia.
Julian Gorman, head of Asia-Pacific at the GSMA stated a “pragmatic approach is necessary by all parties to ensure DNB delivers next-generation connectivity that Malaysia needs”.
“Malaysia has a thriving mobile economy and a growing digital sector, but the SWN model proposal risks that. 5G technology is ready to be deployed rapidly, and Malaysian operators have already made significant infrastructure investments.”
Other findings of the report prompted warnings about the potential for a nationalised monopoly to replace the competitive wholesale market. Current MNOs would, therefore continue to compete in providing 4G, but be relient on DNB for 5G.
The GSMA stated the report also uncovered an “absence of a clear market failure to justify the proposed intervention in the 5G market”.
DT Economics examined the track record of similar SWNs in other markets, uncovering evidence of failed deployments, slow rollout, poor service quality and profitability challenges.
In July, it was reported DNB had awarded vendor Ericsson a contract to build the 5G network, which it expects to cost MYR11 billion ($2.6 billion).
The goal is to hit 80 per cent population coverage by 2024, with all operators given equal access through wholesale agreements.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back