DNB: Malaysia’s 5G network to exceed 40% coverage by end-2022, on track to hit 80% by 2024

Digital Nasional Berhad has released its latest update on the nation’s 5G coverage and says it is ahead of schedule and will exceed 40% coverage of populated areas (COPA) nationwide by December 2022.

The government-owned single operator said it is also on track to achieve the committed 80% COPA by 2024 or earlier. 5G network will reach 14 million people located in those areas where the network has been established, and in excess of 30 million over the next two years.

DNB added the 40% COPA will be achieved with approximately 3,500 sites against an initially planned 4,018 sites. The reduced site count was due to of supply chain issues earlier this year, and delays in securing the necessary local council approvals primarily in Selangor and Sarawak. These issues it said have been largely resolved and the network will be deployed progressively in 2023 as planned. In order to overcome the delays experienced and to achieve the 40% COPA, DNB redirected its network deployment efforts to those states initially intended for 2023 and beyond. 

5G is currently available in almost all of Wilayah Persekutuan, Putrajaya, Selangor, and significant parts of Penang, Johor, and Negeri Sembilan, as well as some parts of Malacca, Perak, Kelantan, Sabah, and Sarawak. 

David Hägerbro, Head of Ericsson Malaysia, Sri Lanka & Bangladesh, said: “The rollout of the 5G network by Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB) is one of the fastest in the world, having commenced deployment only in October 2021. Nasution Mohamed, COO of DNB, said, “On the basis of demand for 5G services as well as support received for the necessary approvals from the various state and local council authorities to accelerate network deployment, we are confident of achieving 80% COPA within the next 18 months.” 

To date, five of six Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in Malaysia, who collectively have well over 20 million subscribers – Celcom Axiata Bhd, Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd, Telekom Malaysia Bhd, U Mobile Sdn Bhd and YTL Communications Sdn Bhd (YES) – have commenced making retail 5G services available to their end users, following the signing of their respective 5G Access Agreements with DNB on 31 October 2022. 

However, Maxis Bhd customers will not be able to access 5G services just yet, pending its shareholders’ approval to execute the 5G Access Agreement, which Maxis has indicated it plans to seek in January 2023. 

Significant increase in data traffic, uptake of 5G-compatible smartphones 

Traffic on Malaysia’s 5G network has been surging, with 56,000 concurrent users utilising 146 Terabytes (TB) of capacity on 30 November 2022, or the equivalent of 77,500 hours of high-definition movies. 

The network is averaging 394 Mbps download speed against the average 4G download speed of 35 Mbps. Meanwhile, 5G-compatible devices continue to proliferate the market, with some 7 million devices already in the hands of end users to date. It is forecasted that the growth will double in 2023 and exceed 40 million devices by 2030.

iPhone users, however, will have to wait until Apple gives effect to their retail plans with their partner MNOs before 5G services are offered to the customers. 

For Enterprises, 5G will be a game changer it is a major economic tailwind that will serve to catalyse a host of new consumer, industrial, and enterprise applications, all of which are aligned with the Government’s long-term ambitions for the country. 

The impact of 5G on productivity, efficiency, and innovation is projected to yield some RM650 billion in cumulative GDP uplift and create 750,000 high-value jobs between now and 2030.  

according to the National 5G Task Force Report, Malaysia’s economy is expected to undergo exponential growth by 2030 due to the 5G rollout. It is estimated that 5G will contribute RM8.538 billion to Malaysia’s GDP in 2025, with an 8% annual growth scenario.    

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