Is Malaysia about to backtrack on the 5G Single Wholesale Network?

Is Malaysia about to backtrack on the 5G Single Wholesale Network?

Hard on the heels of yesterday’s news of incentives to encourage operators to sign up, the Malaysian government is now reportedly having second thoughts about offering what it calls a Single Wholesale Network for 5G.

Reuters reports that whether or not the country goes ahead with its plan for a wholesale network may now rest with the cabinet, which is due to make a final decision by January.

Nor is this speculation. The source of the news is none other than the country’s communications minister Annuar Musa, who apparently told reporters about the potential change of heart on Tuesday.

The wholesale network concept hasn’t always had an easy ride. As we noted a few weeks ago, plans for licensing a wholesale open-access network (WOAN) in South Africa have been put on hold, pending further consultation. Meanwhile, in Mexico ALTAN Redes recently declared bankruptcy, though it plans to continue operations.

As for the Malaysian version, it has faced resistance from major mobile operators, who have yet to sign up to the government plan, citing transparency and pricing issues. The cabinet may now allow multiple 5G providers, after concerns that the government's plan could hamper competition.

All of which is somewhat late in the day. Digital Nasional Berhad, the wholly state-owned agency tasked with building and managing 5G infrastructure, plans to proceed with an initial rollout this month.

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