Tear up DNB contract, govt urged

The 5G rollout has been fraught with delays since it was first slated to take off at the end of 2021.

SK Devi | September 6, 2022

PETALING JAYA: The government has been urged to consider leaving Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB) out of the 5G spectrum altogether given its failure to get two mobile network operators on board.

Instead, Johor PKR chief Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh said, the government could redistribute the spectrum among the network operators in the country.

Ibrahim said his proposed strategy would give the operators the motivation and push to move ahead with the task of rolling out 5G.

He was commenting on reports that two network operators have pulled out of the DNB share distribution scheme.

Finance minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz had said Telekom Malaysia Bhd and YTL Communications Sdn Bhd were ready to sign an agreement to subscribe to DNB shares, while Bhd and Celcom Axiata Bhd still needed board approval on whether to increase their equity stake in DNB.

On the other hand, Maxis Communications and U Mobile have declined the offer to take up a stake in DNB.

Tengku Zafrul also said foreign companies were showing strong interest in the local market. Nonetheless, he said, priority would be given to local players.

Ibrahim claimed that the terms of the current distribution contract were not fair to the network operators, given that even as shareholders, they had to pay high rates for the additional internet speed.

Instead, he said, the government should consider a dual wholesale network concept, which would incentivize network operators to roll out 5G coverage in Sabah and Sarawak as well.

He also expressed hope that the government would not consider bringing in foreign companies as substitutes to the network operators that pulled out.

“We should sell the spectrum to local players but make sure that they get a fair deal,” he said.

Ibrahim said local network operators should be given more time to review the new contract, as mergers and acquisitions take time.

Communications and multimedia minister Annuar Musa said his ministry did not want this temporary setback to delay the 5G rollout which is set to begin this month.

The government’s 5G rollout plan has been fraught with delays since it was first slated to take off at the end of 2021, with network operators not wanting to purchase the spectrum in the initial stages due to pricing and transparency issues.

In March, Putrajaya offered telco firms a 70% stake in DNB to ensure they have a say in the 5G rollout.

Source: Tear up DNB contract, govt urged | Free Malaysia Today (FMT)

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