Malaysia's DNB to offer 5G services to telcos for free during initial rollout

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A man wearing a protective mask uses his phone as the Petronas Twin Towers are seen in the background in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia April 12, 2021. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng/File Photo

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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Malaysian state agency Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB) on Monday said it will offer wholesale 5G services to mobile carriers at no cost during an initial rollout set to begin next week, amid concerns from operators over its pricing plans.

DNB, a government agency tasked with building and managing the entire fifth-generation (5G) telecommunications network, has yet to sign long-term deals with any mobile operator, with telecoms firms raising concerns over transparency and pricing issues, Reuters reported last month.

Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TLMM.KL) on Saturday became the first operator to sign up for 5G trials with DNB. read more

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DNB in a statement said 5G services will be commercially available from Dec. 15 in three central areas, including parts of the capital Kuala Lumpur.

The agency said it would provide 5G services at no cost to all operators integrated into its network between now and March 31, as it seeks to finalise its wholesale agreements with carriers. DNB has said it hopes to sign long-term contracts in early 2022.

A "reference access offer" - a public document that will cover the details of the DNB's 5G wholesale model, including pricing and service commitments - will be approved by Malaysia's communications regulator soon following extensive feedback from the industry, DNB said.

Operators that sign up to its wholesale plan before March 31 will receive further free access to all additional 5G capacity during the initial period of operation, it said.

It also reiterated that its 5G pricing plan would be cheaper for mobile carriers than the cost they have incurred for 4G.

Telcos have said under the proposed pricing plan, they could end up paying more than they would have if they introduced 5G on their own, as the plan did not take into account additional requirements related to issues such as traffic volume and contingency costs.

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Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Christopher Cushing

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