The Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister, Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin has said that Malaysia’s 4G nationwide coverage has not reached 96% and he expects that the country will be able to achieve full 4G coverage within 2 years.
Meanwhile, he also pointed out the various issues that need to be tackled when it comes to the construction of new transmission towers as it involves landowners and the state governments.
“We hope the people will be patient and give some time to the government to work to improve Internet access, especially in rural areas.” he told The Edge when attending the Malaysian Family Community Programme at the Ottoman Mosque on Saturday (25 September).
Zahidi also said that once Malaysia achieves 100% coverage on 4G, the Ministry will try to upgrade the coverage to 5G.
Under the current JENDELA plan, Malaysia aims to aims to achieve 96.96% 4G coverage with an average mobile speed of 35Mbps by the end of 2022. As at 31 March, Malaysia’s national 4G coverage is at 93.77%.
Meanwhile, the Ministry relies on data from Ookla to measure the mobile speeds, which is a company behind speedtest.net.
According to the latest report from Ookla, Malaysia’s average mobile speed is at 29.14Mbps for download and 10.87Mbps for upload. The report also rank Malaysia at 89 globally, which is lower than our neighbouring countries, with Philippines at 73 (33.77Mbps), Vietnam at 57 (41.15Mbps), Thailand at 50 (49.37Mbps), Brunei at 36 (61.85Mbps) and Singapore at 18 (91.75Mbps).
Ramping up 4G coverage is also an important task as the government is set to shutdown the 3G network by end of this year. Users of 3G devices are also advised to switch to newer 4G phones with VoLTE while telcos have to ensure that there are enough 4G sites to cover the coverage gap.
As for 5G, the government has appointed the task of setting up the 5G network to Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB), which is a special purpose vehicle under the purview of the Ministry of Finance.
The existing 4G telcos will have to gain access to the 5G network through a wholesale agreement with DNB. With his, there will be no differentiation for coverage and telcos would have to compete based on price and bundling.
Meanwhile, DNB has appointed Ericsson as its only 5G vendor and they aim to launch the 5G service commercially by the end of this year, starting with Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Cyberjaya, following by 5 major cities and districts in Selangor, Pulau Pinang, Johor, Sabah and Sarawak in 2022.
However, there isn’t much updates on Malaysia’s 5G deployment as of now. On the other hand, th GSMA Intelligence has recently raised concerns about Malaysia’s 5G rollout through a single wholesale network (SWN), adding that the approach is risky and has cited a few countries which failed with this approach, including Mexico, Belarus, and Rwanda.
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