Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB) has been exploring the possibility of introducing a second 5G vendor to complement Ericsson in an effort to reduce costs and speed up their nationwide rollout. The recommendation comes from UOB-Kay Hian, who believe that appointing a dual-vendor approach will mitigate the risks of single points of failure while simultaneously decreasing costs and accelerating deployment plans.
Ericsson was appointed in July 2021 to build the national 5G network after 4 vendors submitted bids, with an agreement lasting 10 years. This agreement also contains provision for a second provider, with Huawei, ZTE or Nokia being potential candidates for this role.
The Malaysian government has launched a review on its current single wholesale network model that is due to be completed by March 2023. Calls have been made for telcos to roll out their own networks using existing spectrum; however, DNB opposes this as it would lead to poorer service quality while increasing cost/slowing down the deployment rate.
While incorporating a second 5G network vendor can bring many advantages such as reduced spending and faster launch times, there are also associated challenges that need to be addressed before any decision can be made. First and foremost, selecting reliable vendors is essential should Malaysia wish to go ahead with DNB’s proposed plans. Furthermore, each vendor must comply with local regulations and fulfill all necessary technical requirements before they are able to join the wider project.
It appears unlikely at present that telcos will go ahead with their own networks due to various factors – which means that DNB’s suggested dual-vendor solution could be one of the most practicable options available today as Malaysia strives for digital infrastructure improvements across both urban and rural areas. It will certainly be interesting to see what transpires once the review reaches completion next year in March 2023 and who will be chosen as prospective partners of this nation-wide endeavor.