KUALA LUMPUR : Malaysian mobile operator Maxis Bhd said it will sign an agreement to access the country’s state-run 5G network, the last major carrier to get on board a contentious rollout.
Malaysia has adopted an unusual model for 5G deployment – instead of allocating spectrum to wireless carriers, it will charge them to access the 5G spectrum that is owned entirely by the state-run Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB).
Maxis, along with some other carriers, had earlier pushed for a review of DNB’s pricing terms, saying they were not commercially viable and could lead to higher costs for customers and slower adoption rates. The single-ownership plan had also raised concerns over monopoly.
In a statement late on Friday, Maxis said it was ready to sign the access agreement as it was in its best interests and there were no other 5G options.
“(As of today), there is no alternative wholesale network providers undertaking the deployment of 5G infrastructure and network,” Maxis said.
The company expects to incur operating expenses of about 360 million ringgit ($79.59 million) per year for the access agreement.
Signing of the access agreement with DNB is a crucial step to deploy 5G. The country’s other major carriers had signed agreements late last year after the state agency made some changes.
DNB has defended itself from criticism over pricing, saying it will charge operators less to access its 5G network than their costs for 4G. It has also said the communications regulator would put in place stringent guidelines to ensure fair pricing and a smooth rollout.
Addressing concerns over a monopoly, the Malaysian government in May said it would allow a second operator next year after DNB’s coverage reaches 80 per cent of populated areas.
($1 = 4.5230 ringgit)