The country’s four biggest telecommunications companies — Celcom, Digi, Maxis, and U Mobile — have apparently sent a letter to the government proposing an offer to buy majority ownership of the state 5G agency, Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB). According to Reuters, the letter was sent to the Ministry of Finance (MoF) and its contents were verified by unnamed insiders.
The government had previously offered a combined 70% equity of the single wholesale network to all telcos in Malaysia. According to the report, that 70% would be split among nine network providers, meaning that if the split is even, the four largest telcos would only hold a combined minority stake of 31.1%.
Not being satisfied with that, the four providers are seeking at least 51% equity as a viable agreement. “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,” said the letter.
As a refresher, most telcos disagree with the DNB’s single wholesale network model for 5G as they claim it would lead to a monopoly that would be more costly. The Big Four had proposed a second 5G network to be built alongside DNB’s, leading to the government’s equity offer.
The telcos have yet to agree to the government’s Reference Access Offer and the letter reportedly called for a review of the RAO and pricing model due to a lack of transparency. DNB had said that it would charge operators less for 5G than their cost for their 4G network and even extended its free telco commercial pilot until 31 June.
For now, only YTL and Telekom Malaysia (TM) have signed up for DNB’s 5G service, though the latter has yet to launch a commercial plan for customers. TM has also signed a deal with the state agency to lease its fibre network for 5G deployment, which aims to achieve full nationwide coverage by 2024.
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