In a sudden turn of events, the Ministry of Multimedia & Communications announced that it will nationalize telecommunications infrastructure starting with 5G by end of this year.
The announcement on Monday (22 Feb, 2021) comes after much uncertainty over 5G spectrum allocations. Previously, 5G spectrums were given out to several companies in May 2020, without any open tender excercise. The allocation was retracted after concerns of impropriety were raised.
Under the new plan, Malaysia’s national 5G network will be wholly owned by the government, built by Huawei, and administered by TM. Private industry players will act only as reseller agents for the national network.
In a statement, MCMC said, “This will be a strong indication towards reducing infrastructure-based competition and enhancing a service based competition that will only benefit end users whilst reducing foreign outflow especially for new equipment if multiple players were to build out a network.”
It is implied that existing infrastructure built and owned by corporate telcos will be grandfathered, with no private networks to be built moving forward.
Huawei corporation of China has been awarded the MYR15billion contract to build the network, apparently in secret without a tender process. No other telco or technology provider was even aware of the government’s plans until now.
The nationalization plan is rumored to be lead by Augustus Marhall, the former aide to billionaire Ananda Krishnan and director of Maxis and Astro. Both Marshall and Krishnan are wanted for corruption and forgery charges in India.