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Malaysia to Launch Second 5G Network Amid Western Concerns over Huawei

Updated: Jan 4

The Malaysian government has announced plans to introduce a second 5G network next year, with equipment contracts open to all firms, despite warnings from Western governments against allowing China's Huawei to participate.

5G Tower
Credits: REUTERS/George Frey

Currently, the state-owned Digital Nasional Berhad is the country's sole 5G operator, but once coverage of this network reaches 80% of the populated areas, a second entity will operate another 5G network in parallel.

The communications ministry said bidding for contracts to build the new network would be awarded through an open tender process. Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim promised to end DNB's monopoly during the general election last year. According to Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil, the goal of 80% coverage is expected to be reached this year. The switch from a single to a dual wholesale network will be implemented in line with global practices, said Fahmi. He added that having dual networks would increase capacity and reduce the risk of disruption from a failure in any single network, while dismissing concerns about slower speeds.

Fahmi Fadzil
Credits: Norman Goh

Last year, Anwar ordered a review of the 11 billion ringgit ($2.47 billion) contract awarded to Ericsson in an open tender process under the previous government. Ericsson won that tender against Huawei of China and Finland's Nokia. Huawei reportedly lobbied for a role in the country's 5G rollout after the review, prompting the EU and the US to warn Malaysia that allowing Huawei to participate would bring risks to national security and foreign investment.

Fahmi said he would meet with foreign ambassadors to address concerns but stressed that Malaysia had the right to decide on its policies without outside interference. He believed that the decision to set up a dual 5G network would not only benefit the people but also help to maintain a harmonious relationship with other foreign parties.

  • Malaysia's government to launch a second 5G network next year with open bidding for equipment contracts.

  • The move comes amid Western concerns over the participation of China's Huawei.

  • Digital Nasional Berhad is currently Malaysia's sole 5G operator.

  • Once coverage reaches 80% of populated areas, a second entity will operate another 5G network in parallel.

  • The switch to a dual network is expected to boost capacity and reduce the risk of disruption from any single network failure.

  • Malaysia has the right to decide its policies without outside interference, according to Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil.


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