Malaysia is gearing up to launch 5G, the fifth-generation cellular network, by the third quarter of this year, and Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is hoping the technology will propel the country into a developed nation by 2035.
“If we apply 5G properly, the development of Malaysia will take a much shorter time. Maybe not 2030, maybe by 2035, we should achieve our objective of becoming a developed country,” he told reporters on Monday after watching the demonstration of 5G wireless technology at police headquarters on the northern island resort of Langkawi.
Langkawi is one of 56 sites across the country chosen as testing grounds for 5G technology in such fields as health care, agriculture, education, public safety and tourism.
Two dozen countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including Malaysia, are set to launch 5G by 2025, according to Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo.
“To the innovators, service providers and relevant stakeholders, this is an exciting time for Malaysia,” the minister said in his speech at a 5G-themed conference on Langkawi on Monday.
The minister urged participants to work together with his ministry and a regulatory body to roll out 5G commercial service by the July-September period this year.
The government is banking on the supposed economic benefits that the 5G technology will bring.
The Malaysian Institute of Economic Research, a Kuala Lumpur-based think tank, projects the launch of 5G services to inject up to 12.7 billion ringgit (95 billion baht) into the economy between 2021 and 2025 and create more than 39,000 jobs.
Unlike some Western countries, Malaysia has embraced China’s telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies, a leader in 5G wireless networks, to develop its 5G infrastructure.
While the United States has urged its allies not to work with Huawei for alleged espionage risks, Mahathir has defended the company.
Huawei has made “tremendous advances” in technology and Malaysia has no fear of being spied on, the prime minister said in May.
“Yes, there may be some spying. But what is there to spy (on) exactly in Malaysia? We are an open book,” he said at a business forum in Tokyo then. “So we try to make use of their technology as much as possible.”
Huawei has signed preliminary 5G agreements with Malaysian telecommunication companies like Celcom, Telekom Malaysia and Maxis. Huawei rivals in Malaysia include Finnish tech giant Nokia.
Gobind noted that Malaysia has not put all its eggs into one basket.
“At this point in time, Huawei is not the only group that we are looking at for 5G rollout. We are also looking at other companies. It is a question of what they propose and how we can work with them, and security aspect will be analysed,” the communications minister told reporters at Monday’s event.―Bangkok Post