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Malaysia’s two major telcos sign MoU to accelerate 5G rollout nationwide

Both rival telcos plan to speed up 5G deployment together while remaining competitive in other areas.

Malaysian major telcos Celcom Axiata Berhad (Celcom) and Maxis Berhad (Maxis) inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Monday for a potential partnership to boost the country’s 5G infrastructure.

The MoU set the groundwork for the joint deployment of 5G infrastructure covering selected areas in the country. Both companies said that the collaboration will “enable both telcos to explore possible business opportunities in relation to 5G key strategic areas”. The goal is to deliver the best 5G innovations to people and businesses in Malaysia as soon the spectrum is available.

Celcom and Maxis will maintain their respective networks “and remain competitive in other areas,” the two companies said in a joint press statement.

“We believe collaboration is the way forward for the industry and working with Maxis to explore a more coordinated 5G deployment in Malaysia is something we are excited about,” said Celcom CEO Idham Nawawi.

“We welcome the idea of collaborating with Celcom for 5G network sharing. We are already sharing towers, fiber and working together on connectivity for rural areas and USP projects. This helps us save resources and accelerate a rollout”, said Maxis CEO Gokhan Ogut, who added that such industry collaboration is “important in supporting Malaysia’s ambition in driving the digital economy.”

The two telcos embarked on their 5G journeys more than two years ago, beginning with technology assessments and demo trials, and have since progressed to full-fledged 5G trials.

Malaysian is targeting a 5G rollout as early as next year, with Maxis aiming the move for the second half of 2020. Meanwhile,  Celcom deployed the country’s first 5g live cluster field trial in late July. Rival telco DiGi.Com Berhad has a 5G OpenLab  in Cyberjaya, which is a space where businesses, academics, and developers can test their 5G use cases.

According to a recent study commissioned by Cisco and conducted by consulting firm A.T. Kearney, Malaysia’s 5G services rollout could boost Malaysian telcos annual revenues as much as MYR 3.76 billion (USD 900 million), from the beginning of 2025.

Singapore and Malaysia are on an aggressive push for 5G rollouts, with Malaysia allocating grants under its Budget 2020 for 5G development. Malaysia has allocated a MYR 50 million grant for the development of the 5G ecosystem, and MYR 25 million in matching grants for digital application pilot projects for fiber optics and 5G infrastructure.

Singapore meanwhile, aims to roll out four commercial 5G networks in 2020. By the end of 2022, it expects to have at least 50% of the country covered with a standalone network, the country’s telecoms regulator Infocomm Media Development Authority said in October.