Malaysian Communications And Multimedia Commission (MCMC) | Suruhanjaya Komunikasi dan Multimedia Malaysia (SKMM)

KUALA LUMPUR: Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB) and mobile network operators (MNOs) could use existing 4G sites to meet the 80% 5G population coverage target by year-end, say analysts.

University Teknologi Malaysia engineering faculty senior lecturer Prof Dr Tharek Abdul Rahman said the 5G rollout in the country has reached 57.8% so far while the nation’s 4G network coverage encompasses 96.92% of populated areas as of March this year.

“Therefore, DNB and MNOs should consider using existing sites for 4G networks to meet the remaining 22.2% target for 5G coverage.

“These 4G sites can speed up the coverage target which is better than rolling out new sites, where we need approval and so on.

“In addition, the frequency used for 5G is no different from the 4G frequency,” he told Bernama.

Malaysia aims to expedite the 5G rollout to achieve 80% 5G population coverage by the end of 2023, which is one year ahead of DNB’s schedule.

Tharek said the current target is achievable due to the successful commercial availability of 5G services in parts of Putrajaya, Cyberjaya and Kuala Lumpur.

“The 22.2% can be achieved and it is possible considering what has been implemented until now,” he said.

Meanwhile, GlobalData principal analyst Alfie Amir opined that DNB, which has a strong track record in achieving previous coverage targets, could reach the year-end target by utilising 700MHz, which is a low-frequency band that offers better coverage penetration.

“Achieving 80% coverage is crucial for Malaysia in order to stay competitive against neighbouring countries. Besides, the 5G coverage expansion will include remote commercial areas such as manufacturing plants, agricultural farms, ports, and mining sites.

“The technology is important for these industries as it can enable various new industrial applications such as remote operations and maintenance through robots, connected equipment, AR/VR, real-time automation, and AI-enabled surveillance,” he said. – Bernama