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Malaysian Telcos Resist Plan for Minority Stake in 5G Operator

The big four providers insist on a combined majority stake and also want a review of the pricing model and network access plan offered by the agency


Malaysia's rollout of 5G could be delayed by telecom firms' opposition to the government's 5G rollout system.
A salesperson at a telecom store uses a phone in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia's rollout of 5G could be delayed by telecom firms' opposition to the government's 5G rollout system. File photo: Reuters.

 

Malaysia’s four largest telecommunication companies are resisting government efforts to give them only a minority stake in the country’s 5G network operator.

Celcom Axiata, DiGi Telecommunications, Maxis and U Mobile have written to the finance ministry seeking a majority stake in the venture.

The big four providers also want a review of the pricing model and network access plan offered by the agency, according to the May 9 letter.

“We would not be able to justify a passive minority investment in this venture without being able to exercise influence and control to safeguard our investment,” the letter said.

 

ALSO SEE: Canada Bans Huawei, ZTE 5G Gear on ‘National Security’ Fears

 

 

Risk of Rollout Delay

Their objections to the government’s proposal, which offered up to 70% of Malaysia’s sole 5G network operator spread among a wider group of companies, raise the risk of delays to Malaysia’s 5G rollout.

The companies and the finance ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The communications ministry, which was sent a copy of the letter, and the 5G state agency Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB) also did not comment.

Malaysia in March offered all telecom firms in the country a combined equity stake of up to 70% in DNB, which is tasked with deploying 5G.

Wireless carriers had complained about its plan for a state-run network that will charge telcos for 5G access rather than allocating them spectrum.

They said the plan would undermine competition and called for creating a second 5G network, but in March said they would be open to the government’s alternative proposal for equity stakes in DNB.

 

  • Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell

 

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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.

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