Finance Ministry Rejects Telcos’ Request For Majority Stake In DNB

5G Malaysia DNB

The Ministry of Finance (MoF) has revealed that it will not budge on its 30 June deadline for mobile carriers to sign up for 5G network contracts with state agency Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB). This is in response to a purported letter from the country’s four biggest telecommunication firms requesting a majority stake in the MoT’s 5G company.

Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz has apparently conveyed this stance to Digi and U Mobile last week and is scheduled to meet with officials from Celcom and Maxis next week for the same purpose. With the government rejecting the demand, the Big Four telcos risk losing out on the 5G rollout if they do not finalise agreements by the deadline.

dnb 5g
[L to R]: Speed test results for Celcom, Digi, Maxis, U Mobile, unifi Mobile, and Yes during DNB’s six-operator MOCN demo at Putrajaya in December 2021.

The letter for controlling equity came after the government offered a 70% accumulative stake in DNB for all telcos. According to sources who told Reuters, the equity would be shared between nine network providers and an even split would lead to the Big Four owning just a minority stake each which they were not happy with.

DNB was formed by the government to implement 5G services via a single wholesale network which essentially turned the company into the sole 5G infrastructure provider in the country. The MoF’s company is currently holding a free pilot period for telcos until the end of June and has already published its Reference Access Offer (RAO) outlining the scope of its pricing as well as services.

The consortium of telcos has criticised the government’s approach to using the single wholesale network, saying that it will lead to a monopoly that would hinder their ability to deliver affordable and quality 5G services as well as slow down the 5G deployment. The firms called for a review of the RAO and the pricing model, claiming that it lacks transparency.

With the national 5G rollout already delayed, it’s unclear when or how the impasse between the government and the major network providers will be resolved. Only YTL’s Yes and Telekom Malaysia have signed up with DNB’s network so far and if no agreement is reached with the Big Four by the end of next month, they could possibly be the only carriers to offer commercial 5G plans for a while.

(Source: Malay Mail.)

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