GSMA responds to Ong Kian Ming’s questions on 5G roll-out

Global mobile industry association GSMA has weighed in on the issue of the 5G roll-out model in response to former deputy international trade and industry minister Dr Ong Kian Ming’s questions on the government’s 5G proposals.

On Feb 14, the Bangi Member of Parliament (MP) raised 10 questions concerning mobile network operators (MNOs) in Malaysia and the 5G roll-out. 

Titled “GSMA’s response to questions raised by Malaysian MP Ong Kian Ming on the government’s 5G development proposals in Malaysia”, GSMA’s six-page statement reads as follows:

In response to the questions put to the mobile network operators in Malaysia by Malaysian MP Ong Kian Ming, the GSMA has shared the following response.

The right market structure for the Malaysian mobile sector is critical in ensuring the government achieves its digital ambitions for the benefit of consumers, enterprises and the wider Malaysian economy.

Below, we provide high-level responses to those questions which have a relevant economic dimension.

An overarching observation is that, although a debate on the options for deploying a national 5G network is welcome, such a debate should have taken place before the decision to proceed with the Single Wholesale Network (SWN) was taken and Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB) was established.

The GSMA commissioned the DT Economics report referenced by Ong in question 9.

The report showed that national SWNs have a poor track record of successful implementation in other countries and of the 70-plus countries that have launched 5G networks, none have adopted a 5G SWN.

Against this international context, it would have been beneficial for stakeholders to have had access to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission’s (MCMC) Regulatory Impact Assessment outlining the cost and benefits of implementing a SWN in Malaysia.

1. Question 2: The argument which DNB and the Finance Ministry (MoF) make is very convincing from an economics standpoint, which is that it is much more cost effective for a single entity to roll out 5G given the high infrastructure costs involved. It would make much more sense, argue DNB and the MoF, for there to be one multi-lane highway built for the purposes of 5G roll-out where different lanes can be shared by the MNOs at a lower cost compared to each MNO building and owning their own highways. Some industry experts seem to agree with the arguments made by DNB and MoF. What is the industry’s response to this argument?

When deciding on the best approach to facilitate big telecoms investments, one needs to trade off the overall efficiency of the chosen approach against other relevant policy considerations.

 Achieving economic efficiency is a fundamental objective of competition and regulatory policy because it enhances overall consumer welfare.

There are three main components to efficiency in the context of 5G:

  • Productive efficiency e.g., how to ensure 5G services are provided at the lowest possible cost?;
  • Allocative efficiency e.g., how to ensure customers (residential and enterprise) have access to those services they value most?; and
  • Dynamic efficiency e.g., how to ensure firms continue to invest and innovate and provide mobile services which respond to the changing needs of their customers?

In our view, the impact of the government’s 5G proposals risks leading to a less efficient provision of 5G services in the medium to long term, where end users may be unable to get the services they value most. We explain this in more detail below.

To date, there is little evidence quantifying the impact of the proposals on the costs of providing 5G services to end users.

On the one hand, there could be significant efficiency gains from building a single national 5G network: this removes the additional costs of network duplication that occur when multiple operators roll-out their own networks.

For instance, there are potentially fewer sites needed given only one network is being built and sharing of passive infrastructure, such as masts and fibre backhaul, is likely to bring costs further down when compared to the building of two or more stand-alone 5G networks.

On the other hand, creating a SWN at the expense of the current competitive wholesale market structure is not a guarantee that customers will pay a lower price for their 5G services at the retail level.

For example, DNB is likely to lack some of the economies of scope enjoyed by the MNOs which might lead to higher unit costs (this is because DNB will only be providing 5G services, while MNOs will continue to provide services based on 3G and 4G, as well as 5G).

In addition, the MNOs’ networks were built with forward-looking expectations that they would have been used to provide 5G services at the wholesale level.

To the extent that this is no longer possible, MNOs — faced with reduced economies of scale and scope — may end up with stranded assets which would no longer be able to earn an economic return leading to significant economic inefficiencies at the detriment of consumers. Evidence to date also shows that the total cost estimates to build DNB in Malaysia have been increasing over time. In the absence of competitive pressure on network deployment, it is unclear how the government and the regulator will ensure that DNB has incurred an “efficient” level of costs to deploy a national 5G network.

In the long term, end users may lose out due to reduced innovation. One of the potential drawbacks from having a national wholesale-only 5G provider in the market is that decisions on investments and service offering are made without the benefit of having “direct” access to end users.

To maximise allocative efficiency, DNB will need to work closely with the MNOs to better understand the need of their users and reflect these in the products and services it offers.

Even with the best regulatory framework in place, this cannot replace the benefits which come from cultivating a direct customer relationship.

The DT Economics report highlighted that a key reason why Red Compartida in Mexico failed as a wholesale-only 4G network was its inability to provide the services consumers valued most (e.g., 2G and 3G).

More importantly, MNOs will have reduced opportunities for creating innovative products as they become de facto 5G mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs).

First, the creation of innovative products for the enterprise market (e.g., low latency offerings), depends on DNB’s capability and incentive to provide a range of wholesale products.

Second, service differentiation is less likely to be possible in the mass market serving residential consumers (as many 5G-enabled applications can already be provided over 4G networks).

Third, there is also a potential adverse impact on innovation from delinking network ownership from service delivery. For new 5G enabled applications to be successful, it is likely that a close coordination is needed between the 5G network and new 5G devices (such as handsets).

In the absence of vertically integrated MNOs, this ability to coordinate is reduced. This may lead to delays in the launch of new services as well as a reduction in the level of service innovation more generally.

2. Question 4: As a public policymaker that is interested in narrowing the urban-rural divide and as a former deputy minister of international trade and industry, I can see the attractiveness of a SWN model led by a government entity that would push for speedier deployment of 5G into the semi-urban and rural areas despite the initial lack of demand. The rapid deployment of 5G, coupled with the existing plans to roll-out 4G in a complimentary manner by the MNOs, will provide the impetus for jobs and investments to flow to lower cost semi-urban and rural areas in different parts of the country which would lead to an increased demand for 5G coverage and services. Would the industry players agree with this point of view?

There may indeed be benefits to deploying a 5G network as a SWN covering all urban and rural areas, which would guard against the risk of cherry-picking economically viable areas to the detriment of uneconomical areas. However, there are significant risks with the current proposals.

At this stage it is unclear how DNB will be funded and financed.

For example, it is our understanding that the requisite funding for the network (in the form of an anchor tenant) is yet to be secured.

Therefore, there is a risk that DNB may be unable to invest in the future, especially in rural areas where demand for 5G services will be lower and the costs of deployment higher.

There is also a risk in delinking provision of 4G and 5G, which is likely to reduce the economies of scale and scope available to all operators in the market, leading to higher prices for end users.

A SWN is not the only option to address the digital divide between urban and rural areas. Other options that could yield similar consumer benefits while retaining the current competitive wholesale market structure include the following examples:

  • A shared rural network approach: For example, the DT Economics report shows 5G deployment in the UK will be undertaken by the current four MNOs: Vodafone, EE, Virgin Media/O2 and Three.

In parallel, the government is supporting three initiatives to bring mobile connectivity to rural areas: the Rural Connected Communities, the Emergency Services Network and the Shared Rural Network (SRN).

The SRN will address the “market failure” in mobile markets by bringing 4G coverage to hard-to-reach (rural) areas, eliminate most of the partial not-spots and will funded by both the MNOs and the government (around 500 million pounds each respectively).

  • Relying on spectrum coverage requirements: For example, a rural network coverage condition (with roll-out within a certain time period) could be applied to MNOs who are assigned 5G spectrum. More generally, in any big infrastructure project, there are always risks of delays and other unexpected developments.

There is merit in the government adopting a flexible approach by considering other options such as allowing current MNOs to use their existing spectrum to provide 5G services, to build 5G networks in certain geographies/ for certain customer segments and/or enter into co-investment agreements with the DNB.

3. Question 6: One of the key arguments put forth by DNB is that the MNOs should focus on competing based on service offerings rather than the speed and connectivity of their network under 5G as data and data access are increasingly being commoditised. From my own understanding, there has been little innovation especially in terms of value-added services for the small and medium enterprises and the manufacturing sector. If the MNOs are freed up from having to focus on the 5G roll-out and are “forced” to compete based on service offerings, wouldn’t this lead to a more innovative mobile telco landscape, for businesses as well as individual consumers?

There is an important economic principle which states that, in general, competition is the best way to ensure continued investment and innovation. In the absence of competitive rivalry, what incentive will DNB have to continue to invest and innovate at the wholesale level?

The technical characteristics of 5G (e.g., virtualisation and network slicing) are likely to allow MNOs to more easily differentiate at the service level compared to previous mobile technologies.

While “virtualisation” will result in more easily programmable networks that are less dependent on the underlying hardware, “network slicing” allows a single physical network to be separated into multiple virtual networks, allowing operators to differentiate services hosted on a single network.

However, even with the technical characteristics of 5G, there are several additional issues which would need to be addressed:

  • As discussed in the answer to Question 2 above, with a SWN, MNOs will have reduced opportunities for creating innovative products as they become de facto 5G MVNOs.
  • MNOs will be entirely dependent on DNB for service choice and quality — given the innovative applications which 5G is expected to provide to end users, some with time-critical delivery requirements, it is imperative that DNB is required to adhere to clear Quality of Service rules (such as robust service level agreements and service level guarantees in contracts with access seekers).
  • It is unclear how the resilience and security of DNB will be ensured. Finally, MNOs already compete at the retail level — removing their ability to build their own 5G networks is unlikely to increase their incentives to compete “more” at the retail level.

4. Question 8: Does the industry see any upsides in having DNB roll out the 5G network initially and giving an option for MNOs to buy stakes in DNB after a significant portion of the 5G network has been rolled out, let’s say by 2024? Would this lessen the concerns on the part of the MNOs that DNB would “abuse” its position as a monopoly and put unreasonable charges on the industry players for access to the 5G network?

The SWN will in effect be a monopoly with exclusive rights to offer 5G wholesale services; this raises significant risks and will require carefully targeted regulation to mitigate any unintended consequences (as highlighted in the DT Economics report).

It is unclear that allowing MNOs to buy stakes in DNB (at some time in the future) will lead to a more efficient outcome. Important economic and financial questions will need to be addressed before implementing such a proposal.

For example:

  • What are the costs and benefits in allowing DNB to operate for only a narrow period of time?
  • How, and at what level, will the unfinished network be valued at?
  • Which MNOs will have the incentive and ability to buy a stake in an unfinished 5G network (and continue to build)?
  • Will the original investors in DNB continue to own a share in the company or not? If yes, what will the scope of their continued involvement be?
  • How will the government ensure the incentives of the different MNOs with ownership rights are aligned?
  • How will the government ensure a level playing field among all MNOs if there are variations in voting rights and/or some MNOs are outside the ownership structure?

More importantly, even if some MNOs had stakes in DNB, DNB would continue to be a monopoly provider of wholesale 5G services and therefore will need to be subject to regulation.

In addition, the regulator will need to ensure the MNOs’ new commercial “relationship” is compliant with competition law and be ready to step in should this not be the case.

5. Question 9: Would DNB be more “acceptable” to the MNOs if it had more autonomy and a more “arm’s length” relationship with the government of Malaysia to avoid possible conflicts of interest within the government, as recommended in this 5G evaluation report by DT Economics?

This proposal will help ensure DNB is less politicised. However, as mentioned in answer to question 8, it would still be a monopoly with exclusive rights to offer 5G wholesale services and therefore its ability and incentive to behave in an anti-competitive manner will be unchanged.

There will still be a host of significant risks to manage combined with the need for carefully targeted regulation to address any unintended consequences (as highlighted in the DT Economics report).

6. Question 10: Would the MNOs prefer a Dual Wholesale Model (DWN) compared to the current SWN model with another entity building and rolling out another 5G network? If so, what would be the proposed ownership structure and responsibilities of this DWN model?

For example, would a consortium-led entity be allowed to complement/compete against DNB for the 5G roll-out or would the ownership structure of DNB be changed so that there are two non-government entities given the responsibility of rolling out 5G in Malaysia?

The concern with DNB is that a competitive wholesale mobile market structure would be replaced by a monopoly which — by its nature — is likely to have reduced incentives to invest, innovate, provide choice and value for money.

A DWN would provide additional competition and is likely to incentivise the wholesale network providers to build the network faster and provide a better network/service.

However, there are potential pros and cons with a DWN that would require a regulatory impact analysis by the MCMC to assess the cost-benefit from such a proposal. An alternative option might have been to allow Malaysian MNOs to build their own 5G networks.

A recent example of where 5G (stand-alone) networks are being deployed successfully is Singapore.

According to the regulator, as part of the 2.1 Ghz spectrum auction:

  • Both Singtel and M1-StarHub consortium are on track to establish two nationwide networks with full-fledged 5G stand-alone (SA) capabilities with at least 50% coverage by end-2022, and nationwide coverage by end-2025.
  • TPG Telecom, as the third operator, will be required to deploy a new 5G network in the same manner and time frame as Singtel Mobile and the M1-StarHub Consortium’s deployment conditions. TPG needs to roll out a 5G SA network with at least 50% coverage within two years, and nationwide 5G SA coverage within five years, from the commencement of its 2.1 GHz spectrum rights.

5G for all walks of life (Opinion)

Written by Andrew Chia

5G TECHNOLOGY was launched here in December 2021, thus making Malaysia one of the first countries in the region to build a 5G ecosystem using the internet and cloud services in real-time.

5G is a gamechanger, creating more smart services that will have a direct impact on people everywhere, from all walks of life.

It not only promises faster Internet access but will also enable various industries with more capabilities, as well as offer people a wide range of mobile digital experiences, far beyond what’s available today.

It is is the fundamental platform for the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) because it combines greater data transfer speeds and heightened processing power.

The 4IR is a fusion of advances in digital, physical and biological fields, and has brought about discoveries in artificial intelligence (AI), Big Data, virtual reality (VR) and software engineering.

5G and you

5G will have a significant impact on our lives, enabling both individuals and societies to adopt a smarter and more efficient lifestyle in terms of work, education, healthcare and leisure.

With greater Internet speeds and accessibility that enables faster data transfers compared to previous generation technologies, 5G directly improves the quality of life in today’s digital world.

Regardless of what device we use or where we are in the world, our choices of lifestyle, work and study increase because 5G promises faster download speeds, web browsing and video streaming.

Working or studying from home will quickly become the way of life as online productivity will naturally increase thanks to the smooth and high quality Internet browsing experience. 5G improves live streaming with low latency, higher speeds and bandwidth.

Revolutionising industries

Economic sectors such as automotive, smart cities, public safety, media and entertainment, agriculture, education, manufacturing and healthcare can take full advantage of 5G technology to transform work processes and introduce reforms that will boost these sector’s contribution to the country’s economy.

According to a recent Ernst & Young Consulting Services (EY) study, the use of 5G technology has the potential to help increase Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 5% or RM122bil by 2030.

5G is all set to drive efficiency, increase productivity and create new opportunities across the board, and this will contribute to the aspirations of the 12th Malaysia Plan to become a high-income nation.

For example, 5G has the potential to increase efficiency, as well as digitally improve the healthcare sector with remote monitoring or telehealth.

This tech benefits from a latency rate as low as 1ms which allows for live consultation and diagnosis via video calls between physicians and patients regardless of their location.

In the manufacturing sector, smart manufacturing is now a reality with robotic machinery able to communicate in 4k at high speed through machines, sensors and cameras that will improve operational efficiency and capabilities.

Not to be outdone, self -driving vehicles – which may have once been a thing of science fiction – are now very much a reality. Everything can be achieved with a combination of 5G technology and sensors, cameras, radars and AI.

5G also allows drones to be used for precision farming, as well as digital mapping and monitoring to increase agricultural yields in a shorter period of time.

Society will also benefit from the existence of a smart city with fixed wireless access (FWA) and enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB).

These accesses allow residents to use devices such as washing machines, televisions and smart air conditioners that can be controlled remotely. All these initiatives implemented are in line with the government’s aspiration to bring about a positive change in the lives of the people, in line with current technological developments.

As a result of the revolution in these vertical sectors, 5G is directly creating more job opportunities as well as new types of jobs.

The EY report expects the implementation of 5G in Malaysia to create 750,000 new jobs by 2030 as well as contribute to an increase in the percentage of high-skill jobs.

Driving the economy

To drive the economy, the government has adopted the 5G-first policy to encourage the use and adoption of 5G technology.

Under this policy, the federal and state governments will work together and coordinate approvals for the use of 5G such as network facilities.

The government is also adopting digital-native and cloud-first strategies to accelerate the digital transformation of the public sector.

By the end of 2022, this transformation will mean 80% of cloud storage usage in government.

This migration, coupled with future government super apps, will ensure effective data collection and management.

The use of cloud technology enables Big Data, AI, IoT and other emerging technologies to better manage the delivery of government and public services while reducing costs.

This technology helps increase productivity, optimise processes and increase efficiency.

This will enable the government to interact and provide services more efficiently, transparently and effectively to the community.

Seeing double: The English Premier League and Huawei Malaysia (Opinion)

Written by Adrian Leong, Government’s Administrative and Diplomatic Officer (PTD)

Euphoria of a summer transfer

When offered the opportunity to join Huawei Malaysia, my emotions were like that of a player who had realised a dream move to his favourite English Premier League club. When I joined in September 2021, the move had the feel of a summer transfer, but muted of a stadium unveiling to rapturous fans. This opportunity came about when the Public Affairs and Communications Department (PACD) joined the Public Service Department’s Cross Fertilisation Programme (PCF) as a receiving agency.  PCF is an initiative by the Malaysian Government for officers to be placed temporarily in the private sector. This programme aims to value add and hone leadership skills of government officers through observing and applying best practices in the private sector that could be applied to government agencies. Having served in the Economic Planning Unit of the Prime Minister’s Department for five years, this was a fresh start of sorts for pastures new.

Passion of Dennis Bergkamp

“When you start supporting a football club, you don’t support it because of the trophies, or a player, or history, you support it because you found yourself somewhere there; found a place where you belong.”

This quote by Dennis Bergkamp, one of Arsenal Football Club’s favourite sons, has lingered at the back of my mind ever since it was mentioned in the 1990s. Being a fan of football since my teenage years, sports personalities, especially football coaches and players, have loomed large in shaping my thoughts and perception. Football teams with their different styles of play, managements as well as business models had provided me with a platform to understand happenings around me.

This quote very much reflects my own working philosophy and experience; where to achieve some sense of belonging, one needs to adapt well and be agile in methods of doing things. In football, talent without hard work will achieve nothing, and this is relevant in the public and the private sectors too. Being flexible and having the ability to easily absorb new knowledge from your new working surroundings are vital to fitting right in and hitting the ground running.

Huawei Malaysia a mirror of the Premier League

There are some peculiar similarities between the birth of Huawei and the English Premier League. For the latter, it was first created in 1992 to replace the old English First Division. Riding on a new business model, the League would have commercial independence from the Football League and The FA, leaving it free to organise its own broadcast and sponsorship agreements. From then on, and into the new century, we see the Premier League churning out endless exciting products. The morphing into the Premier League is hardly puritan. Rather, business had opened the Pandora box of footballing opportunities to continuously churning possibilities.

For Huawei, we have witnessed the fruit of an evolution that began at the turn of the century. A young company from abroad was seeking to establish itself here. A company, which at infancy in its parent country in 1987, was literally given the name promising i.e., Huawei. It had opened for business there reselling PBX switches. Then it quickly repositioned itself as a leading technology provider around the world. Its business model is one that places importance on its employees through an Employee Shareholding Scheme. In this country, Huawei Malaysia continuously excites. Under the 3G banner in 2008 and later 4G in 2012, the Maxis FDD Massive MIMO is a fine example while the world’s first Smart-8T8R solution with Celcom is another. Currently, flagship projects include the Kuching Smart City, Huawei Spark, My5G and TM ONE’s Alpha Edge. Through these projects, Huawei has opened the country to a whole new world of digitalisation.

Recognising strengths by Jurgen Klopp

A quote from Jurgen Klopp, the current Liverpool manager is reflective of Huawei’s strengths. He mentioned “The Premier League is the most difficult in the world. There’s five, six or seven clubs that can be the champions.” 

Just as the Premier League showcases multiple internationally leading clubs, Huawei too has been trailblazing with a plethora of internationally recognised leading products, be it a RuralStar to ensure connectivity in the rural outskirts to theMy5G at Cyberjaya, to sorting chilli or keeping sturgeons alive for Malaysian-made caviar as well as connecting seaports or airports, just to mention a few.  

This leads to my second observation of the Premier League which is also evident in Huawei and that is on how innovation and technology are being applied. A new development in football around the world is the deployment of Video Assisted Referees (VAR) sitting in a control room to help the referee on the field make better decisions. Similarly, Huawei’s technology for a command centre aims to make daily lives better. 

The experience I obtained from Huawei in the areas of new technologies and advance innovation are tremendous. There is no other place I would rather be to witness the evolution of digitalisation from a front row seat. Huawei Malaysia’s Customer Solution Innovation Center (CSIC) is a sight to behold with over 120 applications and services aggregated in one place.

On top of that, both the Premier League and Huawei have an international presence. The Premier League is the most-watched sports league in the world, broadcast in 212 territories to 643 million homes and a potential TV audience of 4.7 billion people. Huawei, of which I am constantly being reminded of by my colleagues, is a Fortune 500 company, ranked 44 in the world, and supports the stable operation of 1,500+ carrier networks across 170+ countries and regions, achieving over 1 billion connected Huawei devices worldwide, with 730+ million Huawei smartphone users, among others.

Lessons Learnt by Roy Keane

Maybe I was getting a little stuck in the rut with more than 15 years in government service, but Huawei has offered me an invigoration of sorts since joining in September 2021.

“I don’t believe skill was, or ever will be, the result of coaches. It is a result of a love affair between the child and the ball,” said Roy Keane, one of the most successful captains of Manchester United.

What this entails is the opportunity Huawei has offered for me to learn and also relearn skills picked up from the government service. 

Relearn as in participating and enjoying the accomplishment of the Public Affairs and Communications Department (PACD) officers when the Prime Minister, YAB Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri, visited Huawei’s CSIC in November 2021. It was one of the main highlights of the year, and surely one of the most significant ones. The visit was the culmination of months of planning and toiling, not to mention tears and fears. It was nice being part of the PACD team in achieving one of its key targets.

There were also many opportunities to learn such as in organising the online Empowering Women Leader’s Conference involving 26 speakers that magnified the importance of women empowerment in Huawei’s agenda. Kudos to the PACD team again for being able to bring together successful and important women to speak at this conference. These included successful leaders of the country such as the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Mastura Mohd Yazid and retired Federal Court Judge Tan Sri Zainun Ali while Huawei’s very own Madam Chen Lifang, Corporate Senior Vice-President and Director of the Board, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.,  as well as Ms. Afke Helprigdina Maria Schaart, Senior Vice-President, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd also lent their voices. These women spoke with vigour on ways to advance women in finance, technology, business, judiciary and government. 

Being involved in the nitty gritty of organising this conference right down to the last detail taught me the importance of patience and how to deal with last minute unforeseen circumstances when things sometimes do not go as planned. One example was a speaker backing out at the last minute due to a family emergency and having to rearrange things due to that. This showed me how important it is to think on one’s feet and the value of teamwork.

Finally, this programme provided me with the biggest opportunity to learn two totally new fields, namely, 5th generation mobile network and cyber security. Huawei offered me insights into the technological advancements it has made in these fields. I was given the opportunity to be part of the launching of My5G, the first 5G Cyber Security Test lab in Southeast Asia at CyberSecurity Malaysia in December last year. I am able to witness the ensuing work Huawei is putting in with various partners to ensure the success of the test lab and I feel this will be the most valuable experience that I will gain from my stint at Huawei. 

Moving forward 

In Huawei, I have experienced the working culture and environment of a leading multinational company, the development of effective presentation materials and the importance of time management. However, my journey is yet to be over and I am looking forward to many more opportunities to learn in the months to come. I look forward to improving in developing my interpersonal and communications skills and I believe the skills acquired will be useful in my future placements in the civil service.

“Listening to their advice, watching others, and reading about people are three of the best things I ever did.” These words of wisdom from Sir Alex Ferguson, the man who had won almost every major trophy at the club level with Manchester United, are perhaps the three guiding principles that can hold me in good stead as I continue my attachment at Huawei. With bated breath, I am excited to see what comes next.

DNB removed Samsung Galaxy S21 series from its 5G supported devices

Back in December 2021, Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB) officially launched 5G services in Malaysia but only in limited areas such as Putrajaya, Cyberjaya and a few spots in Kuala Lumpur. At the same time, the company also released a list of 5G smartphones that are supported including Samsung devices.

As you can tell by the headline, DNB actually removed the Samsung Galaxy S21 5GGalaxy S21+ 5G and the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G from the list. No reason nor statement was given at all so we don’t know what really happened there. Whatever the reason is, we can’t see this as progress since the Galaxy S22 series is currently on pre-order in Malaysia.

Now that the Galaxy S21 series has been deregulated to the “upcoming 5G support devices”, it’s now alongside other Samsung devices that have yet to be approved by DNB. This includes the Samsung Galaxy A22 5GGalaxy A32 5GGalaxy A42 5GGalaxy A52 5GGalaxy A52s 5GGalaxy Flip 3Galaxy Fold 3Galaxy M52 5GGalaxy Note 20 Ultra 5GGalaxy S20 FE 5G and Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G.

Besides Samsung, the Apple iPhone 12 and 13 series are also on the list. According to the timeline, all these smartphones should get 5G support by the first quarter of 2022. We have one and a half months to go so we can only wait and see.

Building digital capabilities for a future ready Malaysia (Opinion)

This post was first published on LinkedIn by K Raman, Managing Director of Microsoft Malaysia

As we settle into a new year, I’m reminded that the last 24 months were the most challenging for every single person on the planet. Filled with hardship and heartbreak, constraints, fear, confusion and so much more, it also proved to us that we as a human race are resilient. We stepped up to help communities, colleagues and peers. And we were change makers, learning new skills, hobbies and educating ourselves when movement control orders were implemented. That’s what I take with me into 2022 – the knowledge and our collective leadership in using tools, skills, technology to empower every person and every organization to achieve more. 

Our CEO, Satya Nadella put it succinctly when he said we saw two years of digital transformation in two months. From companies adopting remote work to industries moving to cloud; from governments using video conferencing to manage their territories to century-old organizations innovating for tomorrow. What the world realised quickly was that every job and every industry from accountancy to zoology requires some level of digital skills.

When I graduated from the University of Malaya, ‘digital skills’ wasn’t a term anyone recognized or used. Jobs like Data Scientist, Solutions Architect, and even Social Media Manager were unheard of. Yet my kids will be doing jobs that have not even been invented yet and this shows just how important it is to be equipped with the right skills.

The World Economic Forum shares that digital skills will be required for nine out of ten jobs, specifically, over the next 10 years, 1.2 billion employees worldwide will be affected by the adaptation of automation technologies and artificial intelligence. 

Shortly after the pandemic set in, we launched a global skilling initiative aimed at bringing free digital skills with learning resources from LinkedIn, GitHub, and Microsoft and I’m grateful that we surpassed our initial goal, and helped 30 million people. We scaled that commitment to Malaysia through our Bersama Malaysia initiative, where we pledged to bring digital skills to 1 million Malaysians by December 2023. 

We know this is a collective effort of a number of incredible organizations, including government support and we have partnered with various like-minded organizations and corporations to ensure our digital skilling programs are both inclusive, and bring impact to Malaysians from all walks of life.

As part of the recently launched Bumiputera Development Action 2030 (TPB2030), Microsoft was appointed by the Bumiputera Agenda Steering Unit (TERAJU) as the official skilling partner of MARA Community College. This partnership enables students at MARA Community College to incorporate content from Microsoft Learn into their existing curriculum, thereby facilitating access to resources useful for self-paced online learning. Authorized training partners from Microsoft have also been assigned to provide necessary support for the students’ upskilling needs. 

Importantly, students who successfully complete the curriculum will be awarded a globally recognized certification that affirms their digital competencies, thereby further boosting their employability upon graduation and empowering them to pursue their dream careers.

Similarly, under the guidance of certified trainers of Microsoft Office Specialist and Microsoft Innovative Educator, more than 50 students from Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM) obtained their Microsoft Office Specialist: Excel Associate professional certificate in early December 2021. The achievement is notable as it is testament to their digital and numerical skills – qualities recognized by an increasingly wide range of industries globally.

Education institutions are one of the most important pillars to nurturing future leaders of the country, and we carefully consider every chance we get to lend a helping hand. Looking back at our partnership with Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP), it was a timely collaboration as the institution was hands-on and welcomed an education ecosystem that moved in tandem with digital technology.

With the adoption of Microsoft’s Education Transformation Framework, the approach proved to be highly useful as educators get to accommodate up to 20,000 participants in one-go without having to exhaust teachers by repeating the same lesson multiple times. In fact, the teachers are able to deliver higher quality lessons each time while students stay engaged.

Partnerships with education institutions are very close to our heart as our goal is to ensure that students pursuing their studies have access to equally advanced technologies and are well-equipped when they enter the workforce.

On top of collaborating with institutions, Microsoft is also conscientious of nurturing bright young talents, enabling them to fully utilize and further develop their competencies to become future leaders of our digitally-driven economy. In early 2019, we partnered with the Ministry of Education to launch the STEM4ALL initiative, which aims to transform the education system in Malaysia by promoting STEM education and ensuring graduates are equipped with the skillsets to drive their employability in this digital age.

As part of the initiative, Microsoft Malaysia Ambassadors Chloe Soh Ke Er and Serena Zara Taufiq, both who were then only 10 years old, had also met with policymakers to not only demonstrate their very own creations, but also teach them coding. This proves to show that there are no age limits when it comes to improving digital literacy, and inclusivity in the digital economy is not a pipe dream, but already a reality.

Enabling a Digitally Inclusive Malaysia 

When we launched our Bersama Malaysia initiative in April last year, our goal was to empower Malaysia’s inclusive digital economy and advance our nation’s digital transformation agenda. With a reciprocal goal to ensure no one is left behind as our nation embarks on its digital transformation journey, we have partnered with several organizations to bring digital skills to more Malaysians. 

  1. Collaboration with Social Security Organisation (SOCSO) and Junior Achievement (JA) Malaysia– Themed ‘Digital Skills for Tomorrow’s Jobs’, this joint program kickstarted in July 2021 with the aim of supporting the upskilling of 25,000 Malaysians, primarily graduates and unemployed individuals. Courses are offered in both English and Bahasa Malaysia, while materials are also derived from Microsoft’s extensive industry and training resources. Our end goal is also for successful candidates to secure employment upon completing the upskilling program. As such, efforts will be made to engage our partner ecosystem and customers to offer employment, internship, or practical training opportunities.
  2. Regional Partnership with Grab – We have been long-time partners with Grab, following a regional partnership aimed to bridge the digital gap within Southeast Asia. We introduced a training program to enhance the digital skills of Grab’s drivers and delivery partners. By doing so, drivers and delivery partners are empowered to look ahead and strive towards additional opportunities for employability beyond Grab-platform work. As of end 2021, we saw an overwhelming participation of more than 22,000 Grab drives and delivery partners – twice the number of participants we had targeted! 
  3. Code; Without Barriers – On the regional front, Microsoft along with 13 other companies across Asia Pacific launched the Code; Without Barriers program, designed to bridge the gender gap in the region’s fast-growing cloud, AI, and digital technology sectors, providing a platform to enable female developers, coders, and other technical talents to contribute towards inclusive economic growth. This program will also encourage innovation and better reflect the societal makeup of their region. On top of this, Microsoft’s Code; Without Barriers team is developing a community playbook that tackles how to handle bias and sustain diversity in emerging tech.

With the rapid pace of innovation and tech advancements, our vision is to empower every person and every organization to achieve more, and for us all to benefit together. By engaging with partners from different sectors, we are able to widen our reach and establish a pathway for diverse communities to be active participants in our nation’s digital economy.

The Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint – MyDIGITAL set out a target of transforming the nation into a regional leader in the digital economy. To realize this objective, it is important that the people are ready to be a part of this move — for it to be a truly inclusive digital economy. On this note, every one of us at Microsoft is excited to continue our on-going partnerships and walk hand-in-hand with our communities to embrace the nation’s digital transformation.

Bringing you quality POVs on digital technology advancements