Four of Malaysia’s mobile network operators have agreed to take a stake in the government-owned 5G agency Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB).
It comes after months of delayed talks and hesitation among some of the operators, with Celcom Axiata, DiGi Telecommunications, YTL Communications, and Telekom Malaysia agreeing to take up a total of 65 percent equity in the agency, with the government holding the remaining 35 percent.
There were initially supposed to be six operators on board. However, Maxis and U Mobile, two of Malaysia’s biggest operators, pulled out at the end of August.
This led to further delays, as all six operators had reportedly agreed to the DNB’s terms just weeks earlier. This offer saw the six operators offered a combined 70 percent stake.
According to Reuters, YTL and Telekom Malaysia will each take 20 percent equity in DNB, while Celcom and DiGi will take a stake of 12.5 percent each.
DiGi and Celcom are expected to merge and were recently given regulatory approval from the Securities Commission Malaysia over a proposed deal. In a statement, DiGi said that its stake would increase to 17.5 percent if the proposed merger didn’t complete by mid-2023.
The DNB expects the operators to make 5G services available to their customers from this month.
Operators have been skeptical of the proposals put forward by the DNB, with many initially reluctant to agree to the plans.
The DNB has maintained that its 5G strategy will keep costs lower and speed up the deployment of 5G services in the country, which has faced regular delays.
The DNB says the rollout will cost RM16.5 billion ($3.7bn) for the next decade, with Ericsson selected as the network equipment provider.
By 2024, Malaysia’s government wants 80 percent of populated areas in the country to be covered by 5G. Data Center Dynamics