MCMC says will ensure Finance Ministry’s vehicle gives out 5G fairly to telcos

A logo of the upcoming mobile standard 5G is pictured at the Hanover trade fair, in Hanover March 31, 2019. — Reuters pic
A logo of the upcoming mobile standard 5G is pictured at the Hanover trade fair, in Hanover March 31, 2019. — Reuters pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, March 2 — The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia and Commission (MCMC) has pledged to subject the government-owned Digital Nasional Berhad to the same regulatory oversight as other service providers amid preferential treatment concerns.

The regulator said today it would, among others, use the law to ensure service providers get “open, fair, and equal access” to 5G network services notwithstanding the fact that the special purpose vehicle was set up by the Ministry of Finance (MoF).

The MoF announced the establishment of DNB yesterday. The SPV will be the sole licensee to distribute and develop 5G technology in the country. MCMC said it will be licensed to operate under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA 1998).

“As such, DNB would be subject to regulatory oversight of MCMC, just like any other licensee in the communications and multimedia industry, notwithstanding the fact that the entity is wholly owned by the government,” the regulator said in a statement.

“MCMC will regulate and monitor DNB via the relevant regulatory tools under the CMA 1998, to ensure, amongst others, optimum use of spectrum and that all telecommunications service providers will have open, fair and equal access in obtaining wholesale 5G network services.”

The government announced late last month that the distribution of the 5G spectrum will not be done through auction but bought via a special purpose vehicle wholly owned by the MoF.

DNB will be the sole proprietor of the next-generation technology licensed to provide the spectrum bands wholesale, MCMC chairman Fadhlullah Suhaimi Abdul Malek said in a media briefing on February 22.

5G is a fifth-generation mobile network that provides super-fast connectivity needed to enable technologies like artificial intelligence and the internet of things (IoT), by allowing connection with machines or devices.

MCMC previously said it would distribute the 5G spectrum through bidding.

The commission said today DNB will act as a wholesale neutral party that enables other licensed telecommunication companies to focus on the latest technologies to develop 5G retail services.

The regulator argued that this would help private telcos save costs and benefit consumers.

“The manner in which the wholesale services are offered by DNB will also be closely monitored by MCMC under the provisions of the CMA 1998,” it said.

“The speed and cost savings of the 5G deployment can be passed on to benefit the end users.”  

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