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Malaysia cuts a lonely figure in approach to 5G rollout

In February 2021, the Malaysian government revealed its strategy for the rollout of 5G. Under the broad and ambitious Digital Economy Blueprint, it will create a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to deploy a single, nationwide next-generation network. This new unit, wholly owned by the finance ministry, will be allocated spectrum to offer wholesale 5G access to all licensed telecoms operators on an equal basis.

In theory, the approach ends plans for assignments of 700 MHz, 3.5 GHz and 26/28 GHz spectrum to operators, and could bring forward the country’s timeline for the launch of 5G. However, the SPV now faces a considerable challenge in putting the state’s vision into practice, which it expects to deliver “better and cheaper” 5G services to consumers compared to traditional network deployment based on market competition.

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