At last, Malaysia gets its first 5G-ready mobile network plans. What's next?

At last, Malaysia gets its first 5G-ready mobile network plans. What’s next? Source: YES 5G

Malaysia finally gets its first 5G-ready mobile network plans. What’s next?

  • After all the back and forth, Yes 5G announced 5G-ready mobile network plans for the public, the first in Malaysia to do so.
  • The telco company claims that its 4G+5G mobile plans dubbed “Infinite” and “Infinite+” are 300% cheaper than the current 4G market standard.
  • The plans, available starting June 9, are dubbed by the company as the “world’s cheapest and fastest unlimited 5G and 4G plan”.
  • Overall, the government aims to achieve 40% population coverage by the end of 2022 and 80% population coverage by the end of 2024.

In a country that has been on a roller coaster journey on its 5G rollout plans, Malaysia, at long last, will have the fifth-generation mobile network made available for the general public starting June 9 onwards. YES 5G — one of the only two mobile networks which has signed up for the country’s state-run 5G infrastructure — announced new 5G-ready mobile network plans yesterday, which it boldly claims as the “world’s cheapest plans”.

At the launch of the 5G services on Thursday, Yes 5G’s mobile network operator (MNO), YTL Communications Sdn Bhd, said it opened pre-registration for the plans, comprising standalone mobile plans, as well as data plans with free 5G phones. YTL Communications claims that these 4G/5G mobile plans dubbed “Infinite” and “Infinite+” are 300% cheaper than the current 4G market standard. 

For consumers who do not own a 5G-compatible smartphone, the Yes Infinite+ 36-month contract allows customers to get a free 5G Smartphone. Overall, the most basic 5G plan offered by YES would cost RM58/month and it comes with 10GB of hotspot data. There is also a standard plan at RM88/month with 40GB of hotspot followed by Premium plan at RM118/month with 70GB of data. The highest offering is Infinite Ultra which comes with 100GB of hotspot quota.

YTL Communications Managing Director Yeoh Seok Hang highlighted that his company was the first in the nation to offer 5G services, on a pilot five months ago. “With prices of goods increasing under the current inflationary climate, we are bringing down data prices by 300% to a mere 30 cents per GB with our newest data plan.” At the moment, the telco provider’s 5G service claims to offer an average download speed of over 665Mbps, which is more than 15x higher than the current average 4G speed of 44.1Mbps.

The actual state of 5G in Malaysia

Source – YES

For context, the discussion around 5G has been ongoing in Malaysia for a few years now but pilot tests only commenced in 2019 with the intention to have 5G in selected cities by the end of 2020. Things however took a turn when there was a change of government midway. Then by 2021, it was decided that the country’s 5G program will be handled by one state-run entity, which was firstly assigned to study the best possible method in launching the infrastructure. 

The entity, Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB), came up with a study claiming the most effective approach will be by deploying the Single Wholesale Network (SWN) system, a concept not well accepted by the country’s biggest telco operators. The resistance, still ongoing, led to the telcos proposing a Dual Wholesale Network model to, a format that will allow operators to co-operate the 5G spectrums alongside DNB, hence giving them full autonomy over the infrastructure.

The government, not too keen with those telcos’ proposal, eventually laid out a suggestion that a 70% stake of the country’s sole 5G network operator be spread among a wider group of telco companies. The offer thus far, has only been accepted by  two telecommunication companies, Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) and YTL Communications themselves.

On the other hand, based on an exclusive report by Reuters, Malaysia’s other four largest telecommunications firms — Celcom Axiata Bhd, DiGi Telecommunications, Maxis Bhd and U Mobile — are seeking a majority stake in the state 5G agency, countering a proposal by the government to offer them minority ownership. The four dominant providers also want a review of the pricing model and network access plan offered by the agency.

They are, however, on a tight timeline, as the government has given them until June 30, 2022, to accept the offer. “We will study the justification but the basic principle is still the same, I am not going to create a monopoly and make a certain company bigger,” Communications and Multimedia Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa told reporters on Thursday after the launch of YES 5G services

“The time has come, as far as I am concerned, that by the end of June, I want to see 5G move on without any more hesitation. Despite all this haggling, the deadline remains the same. “Of course, the Cabinet decided that DNB will be placed under my Ministry after June and I can promise you that I am going to be very serious about this. DNB must perform,” Annuar added, referring to DNB’s goal of covering 80% of the country’s populated area by the end of 2024.

The national 5G network deployed by DNB currently covers select areas of Kuala Lumpur, Cyberjaya, and Putrajaya. They have recently started 5G coverage expansions into Selangor and Johor. DNB has an aim to achieve 40% population coverage by the end of this year.