Category Archives: Maxis

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


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.

Malaysian minister wants to issue licences to new players if telcos refuse to sign up for DNB’s 5G access

With 9 days remaining until the 30th June 2022 deadline, Communications and Multimedia Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa (Pic) said he will issue new licences to new players if the number of companies participating in the 5G rollout is not enough. The government has issued an ultimatum to the big four telcos such as Celcom, Digi, Maxis and U Mobile to take up Digital Nasional Berhad’s (DNB) 5G wholesale offer or risk being left behind. 

As reported by Bernama during the 2021 K-KOMM Excellence Service Awards (APC) ceremony held yesterday, Annuar said negotiations on a service agreement between the telcos and DNB for the implementation of the country’s 5G Network were still ongoing. He said, “I have high confidence that all telco companies do not want to be left behind in providing 5G, which is why we take the policy of inviting everyone to come on board, but we cannot force them to join.

“Any company that participates to roll out 5G, we will continue. If the number of companies is not enough, I will issue licences to new players. I’m not going to wait for anybody. I did say, please think about the importance of the national interest.”

The Minister added, “We want to roll out 5G according to plan and the government has given space for existing players to come on board. Hence, we have set a deadline that we feel is more than enough. Let them complete the negotiation.”

At the moment, only YTL Communications and Telekom Malaysia have apparently agreed to sign up and take an equity stake with DNB’s 5G wholesale access offer but YTL’s Yes 5G remains the first and only telco to provide commercial 5G services in Malaysia. DNB’s 5G network currently covers select areas of Kuala Lumpur, Cyberjaya and Putrajaya, and they are expanding into more states including Johor and Penang. 

The big four telcos have been reluctant to sign up with DNB highlighting concerns that the current reference access offer (RAO) does not enable affordable and quality 5G services to consumers. Some of the pressing issues include wholesale pricing that’s locked to a 10-year period and the overall cost to “rent” from DNB is higher than building their own 5G network. It was also reported that the government will consider opening equity stakes for DNB to private equity both private and foreign if the big four telcos are not interested in taking up the offer.

The suggestion to increase the number of telcos doesn’t seem to address the current 5G stalemate as the big four telcos currently command over 90% of total mobile subscriptions and collectively offer 95.5% 4G population coverage throughout the country. Malaysia already has a vibrant and competitive mobile landscape with a total of 9 companies being allocated spectrum to run mobile services. This includes Celcom, Digi, Maxis, U Mobile Asiaspace, Altel, Redtone, YTL Communications and TM. On top of that, there are dozens more mobile network virtual operators (MVNO) that tap on existing networks to offer retail mobile services. 

If there’s a new player in town, it will be tough to sway consumers from the big four telcos if they don’t provide coverage improvements. Even with YTL and TM having access to 4G spectrum and 5G via DNB, they are still considered small players in the field as their mobile coverage especially for indoors and rural areas is limited compared to Celcom, Digi, Maxis and U Mobile. Since the government has announced the single wholesale network approach, there’s no opportunity for new players to compete in network coverage and they would have to rely on DNB’s network which will take years for it to achieve a substantial 5G footprint nationwide.

Maxis forms 5G alliances to accelerate national technology, IoT solutions

MAXIS Bhd has formed one of the largest 5G alliances in Malaysia to accelerate technology breakthroughs and the Internet of Things (IoT) enterprise solutions in line with the national digital agenda.

In a statement on Wednesday, Maxis said that the alliances comprise global and local technology and industry partners, innovators and lighthouse customers from diverse industries.

“The alliance will co-create, commercialise and scale 5G use cases and innovative solutions across industries to drive digital transformation and innovation,” Maxis said.

Maxis chief enterprise business officer Paul McManus said that the group is committed to fostering and investing in innovation in the country through 5G that benefits individuals, businesses and the government in strengthening Malaysia’s competitiveness in the region.

“We are proud to have an esteemed group onboard which will enable members to work together to grow and leverage this symbiotic ecosystem to unlock the lucrative value of the IR4.0 technologies like IoT, cloud, edge computing, virtual reality and augmented reality,” McManus said.

Currently, Maxis 5G alliance has 16 initial members including Advantech Co Ltd, Amdocs, CrescoNet (formerly an Intellihub), Cisco Systems Inc, Google LLC, GSM Association (GSMA) (Asia-Pacific 5G Industry Community), Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, LLVision, Microsoft Corp, MIMOS Bhd, Motorola Solutions Inc, NEC Corp, Omron Corp, RealWear, SAS and Vodafone Group plc.

“This community is expected to grow as the Maxis 5G alliance is intended to be an open collaboration across all organisations that can help to turbo charge the adoption and deployment of innovation, that will be enabled through 5G and a ubiquitous converged network connectivity,” he said.

Meanwhile, the organisations are structured according to three streams, namely technology and industry partners, innovators and strategic client partners.

“With the diversity of partners within Maxis’ 5G alliance ecosystem, business customers will benefit from this network through sell and grow programmes, engage and exchange programmes, and innovate and build programmes,” he noted.

As a member of the alliance, MIMOS will provide access to its 5G and artificial intelligence innovation hub to develop and test use cases, while Maxis will provide an experiential journey by showcasing the use cases at the recently opened Maxis Business Innovation Centre.

For Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Maxis invites enterprises to trial multi-access edge computing use cases, while GSMA will facilitate knowledge transfer and training via its quarterly forum and 5G insights.

Notably, all solutions and use cases will be powered by Maxis programmable network, a programmable software-defined network. Maxis will also provide its wide range of converged ICT solutions that cater to the full spectrum of business needs that is fully supported with the right expertise through professional and managed services.

Maxis falls to all-time low of MYR3.42

KUALA LUMPUR (June 10): Shares in Maxis Bhd hit an all-time low of RM3.42 on Thursday (June 9) against the backdrop of broad-based selling on Bursa Malaysia.

It was not immediately clear if there were other reasons for the counter’s decline.

The stock opened unchanged at RM3.52 and went on to fall, closing 10 sen or 2.84% lower.

At RM3.42, the telco is valued at RM26.77 billion.

Since the beginning of the year, the stock has fallen by 29.31%.

Last month, Malaysia’s four biggest telcos — Celcom Axiata Bhd, DiGi Telecommunications, Maxis Bhd and U Mobile — sought a majority stake in state-owned 5G agency Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB), countering a proposal by the government to offer them minority ownership.

In a letter sent to the Ministry of Finance, the four dominant players also sought a review of the pricing model and network access plan offered by DNB.

The objections to the government’s proposal, which offered up to 70% of the country’s sole 5G network operator spread among a wider group of companies, is expected to raise the risk of delays as the government aims to conclude discussions on the stake sales by end-June.

For the first quarter ended March 31, 2022, Maxis posted a lower net profit of RM298 million compared with RM334 million a year ago, mainly from the spectrum rights amortization.

Quarterly revenue improved 7.4% to RM2.41 billion from RM2.24 billion. Service revenue rose 3% to RM2.03 billion from RM1.97 billion a year ago, on the back of better contributions from postpaid, home connectivity and enterprise business.

Celcom, Digi, Maxis and U Mobile welcome govt decision to rollout 5G via Single Wholesale Network

After failing to convince the government to adopt a Dual Wholesale Network (DWN), the big four telcos  —  Celcom, Digi, Maxis and U Mobile, have jointly announced that they welcome the Cabinet’s decision to continue with the Single Wholesale Network (SWN) model for 5G deployment as well as the offer to take up an equity stake in Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB).

The telcos said they will engage with the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Communications and Multimedia, MCMC and key industry players on further details on the implementation of 5G via the SWN including the proposed shareholding offer and transaction process.

The big four also said that it believes that a successful 5G deployment in Malaysia will be built on the principles of transparency, sustainability, and security.

As announced last Wednesday, the government had offered to reduce its stake in DNB from 100 per cent to 30 per cent, allowing telcos to acquire equity of 70 per cent. Details of ownership and equity valuation are subject to discussions between DNB and the telcos.

DNB has also announced that it welcomes the government’s decision to retain the SWN model and it is extending the free 5G network access to telcos until 30th June 2022 to facilitate a seamless transition. At the moment, DNB covers select areas in Kuala Lumpur, Cyberjaya, and Putrajaya, and they are currently expanding to other states including Johor. It aims to achieve 80 per cent 5G population coverage by 2024.

DNB is a state-owned special purpose vehicle under the Ministry of Finance that is given the mandate to roll out 5G on cost recovery and supply-led model. It currently holds a 40MHz block of the 700MHz spectrum, a 200MHz block of the 3.5GHz spectrum, and a 1600MHz block of the 26/28GHz (mmWave) spectrum. Within four months after DNB is established, it appointed Ericsson as their technology vendor out of a total of 4 vendors to build the national 5G network.

Ericsson recently announced that DNB will be the first 5G commercial network in the world to use Dynamic Radio Resource Partitioning (DRP). The 5G RAN slicing aspect of the network will allow telcos on the network to have differentiation and guaranteed performance needed to monetise 5G investments with diverse use cases. While multiple telcos can tap onto the same network, RAN slicing will dynamically optimise allocation and prioritisation of resources for guaranteed fulfilment of SLAs required.

At the moment, the big four telcos have not revealed any timeline of when they will offer 5G services via DNB’s network. If implemented successfully, Malaysia’s SWN model would be an example for the world as other existing SWN projects have failed or struggled. Recently, South Africa has decided to scrap their plans to launch its SWN while Mexico regulators have given their struggling SWN, Red Compartida, a further four-year extension to deliver its 92.5 per cent population coverage target.