Category Archives: Digital Nasional Berhad

The Impending Failure of Good Intentions: DNB’s 5G Roll Out (Opinion)

Written by Dr Rais Hussin, President and Chief Executive Officer of EMIR Research, a think tank focused on strategic policy recommendations based on rigorous research.

EMIR Research welcomes the continuous public engagement with DNB and their hired consultants, for, the aim of a debate is never a shallow victory but credible progress and, in this case, credible progress for the nation based on data, science and economics.

Though DNB has not been forthcoming, as DNB still does not answer the most pressing questions (“Malaysian 5G Rollout “Unanswerable” Questions”) but raises even more eyebrows instead by involuntarily (or voluntarily) giving out more details.

Nevertheless, this ongoing public engagement helps to keep track of what is coming out of DNB and spot potential red flags.

DETRIMENTAL IMPACT ON MALAYSIAN TELECOM INDUSTRY

DNB’s UK-based consultancy, Plum Consultancy, claims that EMIR Research misunderstood how DNB’s 5G Single Wholesale Network (SWN) works.

DNB-Plum explains at length how the “DNB approach is different and is not network sharing”, which is pure semantics and conveniently ignores the key issue that EMIR Research continuously emphasised based on hard evidence of science, data and economics. When individual MNOs have no freedom to fully deploy their active network equipment (and DNB, with the help of Plum, admits this fact themselves: “there will be one set of electronics… to carry data between base stations and end-user devices” which is widely understood to be active RAN sharing), we have a big problem — MNOs can no longer compete on the quality of network which is the key differentiating feature and all other features, including differentiation “on retail end” or “in terms of the services offered” which DNB keeps emphasising are only secondary to and totally dependent on the network quality.

If DNB-Plum has not grasped it from the first time, EMIR Research would like to reiterate that it is fully aware of and also acknowledged in its writings on numerous occasions that under DNB, the core networks will be by individual MNOs (at least until the implementation of 5G stand-alone solution).

However, this does not help the DNB’s argument because no matter how superior equipment you have at the core network level, it can do very little if the active network access equipment, which in the case of DNB is provided by one vendor and is entirely out of MNO’s control, provides substandard quality.

Globally and in the Malaysian market until this point, most differentiation between MNOs (other than pricing) has been based on critical innovation and differentiation in the RAN. In contrast, innovation in the core is minimal and, in turn, requires RAN-side support. In short, MNOs need to control both the core and access to compete effectively!

Note that GSM Association (GSMA), in its response to DNB, argumentatively echoes EMIR Research’s concern about this delinking of network ownership from service delivery and its various negative impacts on the industry and end consumers. 

And if Plum does not see this adverse effect on the telecom industry in Malaysia coming or does not want to see it (which is surprising, given their supposedly “over 15 years working on hundreds of such projects including extensive work on the deployment of 4G and 5G”) then maybe Plum could explain why SWN model turned out problematic for a handful of nations who attempted it for 4G and why the rest of the world so avoids it for 5G, including the UK where British mobile operators received 5G spectrum through auction. Apparently, Plum, a UK-based consultancy, has failed to convince their policymakers of the benefits of a nationwide SWN.

LOWER MOBILE DATA SERVICE PRICES UNDER SWN?

According to Plum, “in contrast, rational economic analysis indicates that EMIR’s proposal will lead to wholesale 5G costs [that are] four to five times higher than those of the SWN,” further explaining that “rolling out six 5G networks — one for each mobile operator — would require six times as many 5G base stations”.

This is a far-fetched assumption by Plum that telcos would not share base stations and other infrastructure! Given Plum’s claimed experience in the industry, they should be well aware that this has been one significant trend globally (Malaysia included) in the telecom industry for years now, even for 4G (what more for 5G where this is the only survival strategy), which makes the estimate by Plum that “the overall ten-year cost of 5G network ownership under this option [to] be four to five times greater than under an SWN”, a massively monumental overstatement.

Furthermore, MNOs can significantly reuse their existing infrastructure (in contrast to DNB’s current rollout) to lower total deployment costs — they would not “roll out a 5G network” but upgrade an existing 4G network to also support 5G. This is a very different scenario, and it is at far lower cost, especially with regard to ongoing or OPEX costs for the network.

However, Plum chooses to ignore the benefit of sharing fixed costs between the existing 4G network and the new 5G layer versus a much higher cost of adding a new 4G + 5G network as is required under the DNB’s current rollout.

Note that retail pricing of service to retail customers will consider the costs of both 4G and the 5G layers, at least until the 4G networks are withdrawn and switched off and it becomes stand-alone 5G.  So sharing, rather than duplicating the fixed costs between 4G and 5G, as in the case of the 5G rollout by individual MNOs, has clear benefits for retail customers.

Also, while being so focussed on the towers, DNB-Plum are silent about how much costs could be reduced by each respective MNO on the access equipment if the network is rolled out gradually in pace with demand and, importantly, in pace with the innovation in the industry and progressively reducing the cost of equipment!

As Plum acknowledges themselves the competition in the RAN infrastructure, which, as explained above, under DNB’s current proposition will be out of MNOs control, “is determined largely by the relevant standards bodies and then implemented by the global network vendors” but that is precisely where the big problem lies. Under the DNB’s current rollout model, MNOs will not be able to tap into this global pool of innovation by vendors!

Under DNB’s proposed model, each MNO would be locked for ten years, without access to vendor competition, with a fixed cost of equipment provided by one single supplier—as technology changes (becomes more advanced and cheaper), MNOs would not be able to continue to evaluate new options in terms of features and lower prices which will also hugely weight on the consumer prices.

Therefore, it is highly uncertain how “the end-user prices under the SWN are expected to be around 60% lower”, but it is highly certain, again, that this removal of innovation from the supply of 5G RAN will massively reduce competitive differentiation in the retail market and slow down the ongoing adoption of leading-edge RAN technologies for Malaysia while also compromising Malaysia’s ability to attract 4IR’s, 5IR’s and subsequent IR’s ecosystem players — massive opportunity cost for the nation the scale of which we probably would not be able even to grasp in its entirety.

SUFFICIENCY / INSUFFICIENCY OF 10,000 CELL SITES

Plum consultancy also defends the sufficiency of 10,000 cell sites to provide 90% populated area coverage with a dismissive “there is no evidence to suggest that these estimates (by DNB are faulty)”. Only they forget to attach solid evidence to substantiate the claim that they are correct. Where is the detailed technical report to substantiate that 10,000 cell sites will be sufficient to provide 90% populated area coverage, importantly, with the claimed 5G speed? How the populated area in terms of its density is defined has also never transpired in the discussion.

However, even more interesting is the following statement: “EMIR’s conclusion may have validity if, as it assumes, 5G spectrum is not available at 700 MHz”.

As it transpires now, DNB has 700MHz, 3.5GHz and 28GHz spectrum. Number of towers required to cover populated areas would be different depending on the frequency spectrum — 10,000 sites may be sufficient for 700 MHz, but more towers (and therefore substantially higher costs) would be associated with higher frequency spectrum. Until now DNB has not come crystal clear on this.

However, with 700 MHz, at best, we would be able to get 4G speed and the promise of 1Gbps speed will be gone. So 5G infrastructure, at 5G costs for 4G speed ?

Apparently, then, due to substantially increased coverage per cell site, 700 MHz band would be used to cover rural areas. If DNB is trying to change their goal-posts now and is telling us that we need 4G in the rural areas to “bridge the digital divide” (one of the key premises to their existence and so-called “supply-driven” approach) then this is exactly what EMIR Research and other experts have been telling all this while—that we do not need questionable and failed elsewhere SWN model to bridge the digital divide. Keep in mind 5G full functionality versus needs of the rural dwellers (Figure 1).

Therefore, for bridging digital divide there is a better and cheaper solution with older but well established technologies (see for example “Cheaper solution for rural broadband” or “Finding a cure for Malaysia’s broadband illness”). In short, Malaysia, and particularly rural areas are suffering due to the scarcity or even complete absence of passive network infrastructure, mainly fibre backhaul.

Therefore, EMIR Research, echoing the telecom experts’ opinion, has suggested that the primary focus of DNB should be to own and expand the existing passive network infrastructure only, while utilising for this purpose Universal Service Providers funds and prioritising rural areas, so that the large sums of tax-payers money could be saved and redirected elsewhere. Malaysia has many more pressing problems and impact per every dollar spent must be the priority now!

Furthermore, the proposed restructuring model for DNB will also resolve many other governance problems when the retail players are also DNB’s shareholders. There must be complete separation between retailers and wholesalers which is not what current DNB rollout model offers.

Given the seriousness of the issue, more details will be discussed in the Part 2 of this article as EMIR Research is trying, once again, to re-centre DNB-Plum on all the key issues. Hopefully we will have more direct answers from DNB-Plum, instead of rehashing of the archaic narratives that has been rebutted comprehensively by many including GSMA, EMIR and other telecom experts. We don’t want as what Shakespeare once said : “tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”, to continue unabated.

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.    

U Mobile says no to stake in DNB, to go solo on 5G

Telecommunications company U Mobile Sdn Bhd said today it has rejected the government’s proposal to all major telcos to purchase a stake in Digital Nasional Berhad’s (DNB) for the 5G roll-out, via its share subscription agreement (SSA).

In a statement today, U Mobile said that it would be going solo in offering its 5G services and products to consumers.

“U Mobile has had extensive discussions and deliberations on the matter and after taking into consideration the terms of the investment as it currently stands, the telco has decided that it will not pursue the investment option in DNB.

“The telco believes it would better serve Malaysians by focusing on its strengths of providing innovative and unbeatable connectivity and digital services, that would realise the full potential of 5G technology. The telco’s decision not to invest in DNB does not affect its ability to provide 5G services to customers as access to DNB’s 5G network infrastructure is governed by a separate access agreement, which is not linked to the equity investment in DNB,” it said.

DNB was established in early March 2021 to accelerate the deployment of 5G infrastructure and network in Malaysia. It will offer 5G as a wholesale network service to other telcos.

Putrajaya has been in constant negotiations with telcos in the country over the rollout of 5G, with telcos constantly pushing back for more favourable terms — advocating for a dual wholesale network (DWN) model instead of the government’s single wholesale network (SWN) — which they claim would provide better optimising availability and pricing of 5G.

U Mobile said that the company and other telcos are in discussions to finalise the 5G access agreement with DNB.

“Once it is finalised and signed, DNB’s 5G access when combined with U Mobile’s existing 4G network will enable U Mobile customers to enjoy a truly seamless connectivity experience. U Mobile has full faith that DNB will be on schedule for the deployment of quality 5G network infrastructure and that it will carry out the government’s mandate to provide wholesale 5G coverage and capacity on an equitable and non-discriminatory basis via the 5G access agreement.

“U Mobile has been testing 5G services and is looking forward to our customers enjoying the full benefits of 5G with our 5G-ready products and services soon,” it added.

DNB yesterday said that the SSAs will be revised to accommodate just the four remaining major telecommunications firms, after being rejected by two mobile network operators (MNOs).

The national 5G agency said it considered the SSAs finalised and ready to be executed with the six mobile carriers yesterday, but two ultimately did not continue.

DNB said that one operator decided not to proceed while the other did not respond despite its confirmation to participate earlier.

The firm did not name the carriers, although it was earlier reported that Maxis Bhd and U Mobile had declined to take up the shareholder agreement after negotiations did not meet their requirements.

Reuters report quoting sources said that the two mobile carriers declined the offer after the government knocked back a proposal that four carriers — Maxis, U Mobile, along with Celcom Axiata Bhd and DiGi Telecommunications — take a combined majority stake in the agency.

But the government had instead asked six mobile operators in the country to agree to take up a combined 70 per cent stake in the agency, but Maxis and U Mobile reportedly declined, as they could not see the benefits of being a minority shareholder.

Maxis and U Mobile could not see benefits in being a minority shareholder in DNB, according to two of the sources, who requested anonymity as they were not authorised to talk about the private negotiations.

Despite the development, however, DNB said that discussions on the 5G access agreements were progressing with all six major mobile carriers in the country and that the rollout plan is on track.

Malaysia’s 5g Turmoil Continues As Operators Refuse Stakes In Dnb

SOURCES SUGGEST MAXIS AND U MOBILE WILL NOT BE TAKING STAKES IN THE GOVERNMENT’S NATIONAL 5G AGENCY, HAVING ARGUED AGAINST THE VALUE IN BECOMING MINORITY STAKEHOLDERS

Malaysia’s relatively unique approach to 5G continues to prove disastrous, with sources this week suggesting that two of the nation’s telcos will not buy a stake in Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB) after all.

The government set up DNB early in 2021, aiming to create a single national 5G operator from which the country’s other 5G operators could rent 5G services. At the time, the government said this would be more efficient and cost-effective than the operators rolling out the infrastructure themselves, noting that the plan eliminated potential overbuild.

The operators, however, said that this plan would be more expensive for them than deploying 5G themselves, with many refusing to engage with DNB at all.

Over the past year, the government has taken various measures to make partnering with DNB more attractive, ultimately settling on a plan that would see 70% of DNB’s ownership handed over to the country’s six mobile operators in individual minority stakes.

By August 2022, the government finally seemed hopeful that the nation’s operators were ready to buy-in, literally, to the government’s 5G vision, with Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz telling the media that the last holdouts –Maxis and U Mobile – had confirmed they would take a stake in DNB.

The two operators, alongside rivals Celcom Axiata and DiGi Telecommunications, had previously argued that they should allowed to own a combined majority stake, though this plan was rejected by the government.

Instead, the Malaysian state began floating the idea that foreign companies could take the place of domestic operators in owning a piece of DNB if necessary, with Tengku Zafrul noting interest had been received from companies in India, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

“There are many who have registered strong interest […] because to them there is no more capex. And then they say we have got the technology and we know how to play the game,” he explained.

Now, however, it seems that discussions have fallen at the last hurdle, with sources suggesting that Maxis and U Mobile are refusing a stake in DNB. According to reports, the two operators still believe there is little value in taking a majority stake in the business but wanted to continue talks about gaining access to DNB’s network.

Without the participation of Maxis and U Mobile, the stake sale process itself is potentially scuppered, with sources suggesting that “(the parties) will have to try and restructure the deal”.

It is possible that the four participating operators will simply have their potential stakes increased to absorb the missing stakes of Maxis and U Mobile, though even this simple solution will require new approvals and will thus delay the country’s 5G rollout yet further.

Malaysia is one of the last countries in Southeast Asia to launch commercial 5G services, with many of its neighbours having been enjoying such technology for over a year now.

DNB’s 5G: Eternally Revolving Deadline (Opinion)

Written by Dr Rais Hussin, CEO of EMIR Research, an independent think tank focused on strategic policy recommendations based on rigorous research.

WHILE Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB) and the Ministry of Finance (MoF) still struggles to coerce the local telcos to buy into its Single Wholesale Network (SWN), the global 5G rollout continues at varying success. And while even Malaysia’s more successful 5G-demand-driven counterparts experience hiccups on their 5G journey, DNB’s supply-driven strategy, with this backdrop, raises even more concerns.

According to GSA’s “5G-Market Snapshot”, from June 2022, 205 operators in 80 countries and territories had launched 5G mobile services, with Malaysia still cutting a lonely figurein its SWN approach to 5G rollout.

As of mid-2022, South Korea appears to be an overall leader in the global 5G rollout.

Although China and US are leading global 5G coverage, with South Korea coming up 4th in this list after China, the US, and the Philippines, according to the 5G Speedcheck Indexupdated on June 2022, South Korea is leading 5G race in terms of highest download speed (8 times, 11 times and 58 times faster than the US, the Philippines and China respectively).

South Korea is also among the leaders regarding 5G availability (the percentage of time users are connected to the 5G network), according to the latest OpenSignal data as of June 2022.

The above statistics makes South Korea a suitable testing ground for 5G analysis, based on which it is already possible to draw important lessons.

5G adoption among the customers seems to stall even in South Korea, and it is certainly not as enthusiastic as it was in the case of its predecessor network.

On this account, interesting comparisons were reported by Reuters on May 13, 2022. As of March 2022 (three years into 5G), the number of 5G subscribers in South Korea was just under half the number of its 4G users, while over three years into 4G rollout, the number of its users had more than doubled those of 3G.

Similarly, in the first two to three years of 4G, South Korean telcos saw their average revenue per user (ARPU) jump from 5% to 12% annually. By contrast, very meagre increases in ARPU (3.7% for KT and 0.6% for SK Telecom Co) or even decline (4.2% decline for LG Uplus Corp) from a year earlier forced South Korean telcos even to start looking into ways of diversifying their core business, to be still, able to pay off their investors. And all of this given that South Korean telcos already spent US$20 billion on boosting the connections speed by just five-fold compared to 4G. However, given the unsavory outcome numbers, they are hugely hesitant to commit resources to boost it further.

The problem that could be seen from the very beginning is now, crystal clear and summed by Kevin Loughran, wireless Chief Technology Officer for Jabil, global electronics manufacturing company: “… the investments in technology development and spectrum are by no means incremental. They lean more toward astronomical. In order to balance these investments, the user experience in 5G cannot be incremental. It needs to be disruptive.”

To create the demand, 5G requires a true “killing application”. Such killing application, by definition, must deploy the broad 5G feature spectrum.

However, even if the telcos are willing to invest heavily in the ability to provide such a broad feature set, the customers may have different strategies on how to deploy it — they may still focus on a subset of 5G features that they would purchase.

Such a “dilution” on the demand side presents a serious challenge to the overall economics of the 5G rollout. But this is for the future when most households start having numerous robots and truly connected smart homes, and the roads of our cities will be flooded with autonomous vehicles demanding grid traffic automation — the reality that is far away even for South Korea.

As of now, the majority of Malaysia’s households save every spare cent to be able to put food on their tables. Therefore, they are likely to find it even more difficult than the South Koreans to justify an extra monthly outlay for a five-fold increase in their mobile Internet speed.

If an average mobile Internet user is not fully utilising even the potential of 4G anyway, the question arises: is it not logical to focus the efforts on roadblocks to a faster 4G — the network really needed here and now — by upgrading the network, increasing national fiberisation (focus on the backhaul, lack of which, is the main cause for the lack of the progress for Malaysia’s broadband expansion, according to Dr Mohamed Awang Lah), and repurposing or releasing an additional spectrum?

Reading Jendela’s Q1 2022 report, which, Dr Mohamed Awang Lah insists, is still “service provider-centric report, not end-users’”, Malaysia’s 4G population coverage is “on track”, increased to 95.5% in Q1 2022, and is well poised to achieve its 96.9% populated area coverage target by the end of 2022. In addition, the average mobile broadband speed has increased to 40.13 Mbps, surpassing the original Phase 1 target of 35 Mbps.

In addition, this report states that the 3G spectrum is almost completely retired. Therefore, we could consider repurposing it to increase the 4G frequency band. And, if the government could reconsider assigning sub-6 GHz band to telcos rather than DNB, this would not only allow them to organically (based on demand) rollout 5G at globally comparable costs but also simultaneously speed up their 4G networks by extending their 4G frequency band even wider (See Figure 1). Meanwhile, DNB as a government-led entity should solely focus its efforts on sharing the passive infrastructure, especially, the backhaul link (one of the highest-cost in infrastructure) to enable last mile competition. Now, this is the approach that will reap significant benefits to the end users.

Therefore, it is timely to ask again how all the above stands against DNB’s projected costs, supply-driven approach, ambitious coverage targets and over-arching official choreographed “narrative” objective? And most importantly, who will make up for the potential losses encountered?

Not surprising, we see no progress from where the issue of major telcos taking up a stake in DNB’s SWN since end of June 2022 (See Figure 2) when the Communications and Multimedia Minister assured the public that the equity uptake deal by the major telcos should be finalised and signed in another week or so.

However, one and a half months later, on August 14, 2022, the Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul’s press statement implied that some of the major telcos have yet to agree to the Reference Access Offer (RAO) terms, although they have agreed to take up the stake in DNB as offered by the government.

The finance minister further emphasized the set deadline is August 31, 2022 for the telcos to sign up and that foreign international companies are “queuing up” for the access to Malaysian market. The Finance Minister added that it is very hard not to allow foreign players into the Malaysian market considering the potential for lower consumer prices.

However, the believe that DNB’s RAO terms are “not commercially viable” and likely to lead to higher customer costs and slower adoption rates is precisely one of the main points of contention between the local telcos and DNB apart from the refusal to become a “passive shareholder” with restrictive terms.

And if the RAO terms are not commercially viable even for the local telcos who operates in a Ringgit Malaysia environment, margins for the foreign telcos could be further squeezed due to a very weak ringgit making it absolutely not clear how this can be translated into a lower prices for Malaysian consumers.

Nevertheless, the deadline is here and gone. And two of Malaysia’s largest telcos have just reportedly declined to take up stake in DNB even though they are still open to continue discussing how to make “not commercially viable” RAO, commercially viable. Here lies another problem, DNB and MoF reportedly dished out another dateline i.e. September 30, 2022 for the access agreement for the local telcos. This, despite the absence of regulatory framework for the 5G Access Agreement as MCMC has yet to release the framework covering areas like Service Level Agreement (SLA), pricing etc. Apparently it will be ready only in December 2022. Sign first, framework later.

We could foresee that this may trigger other local and foreign telcos, including those who have stake in local carriers, to question the reasons for such a refusal. No foreign telco or investor will sign up for DNB equity under present conditions, unless MoF underwrites the risks.

It is important to note logically, that the 4 telcos that signed up earlier to take up the stake, will have to revert to their respective Boards, as it was previously at RM200 million per telco equity investment instead of RM300 million now, given 2 telcos have reportedly declined, given the total offer of equity investment at RM1.2 billion for 70%.

Forget not Telenor with a substantial shareholding (49%) in Digi, who is known for their good governance and integrity with impeccable transparency will start asking serious questions.

And past the deadline, Malaysian public is beyond excited to see which foreign telcos take up the stake in DNB. Foreign telcos have higher standards of governance and integrity with wholesome transparency and cannot be dictated by whims or fancies of political masters or unreasonable deadlines.

They normally have higher and stringent levels of due diligence and what more if they are from a developed nation. Unless it is “North Korea Telecoms”.

So, the DNB saga will be a never-ending story with never-ending deadlines. 6G is in trials now, and even before the waves of 5G settles in Malaysia, 6G will start its roll-out elsewhere.