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Malaysia plans hyper-ambitious digital transformation

  • 4 minute read
  • Published by Crispin Moller on 23 Feb 2021
  • Last modified 26 Feb 2021
- Billions to be spent over 10 years, government claims - Hyper-cloud and network planning and build to be executed together - It’s so ambitious that even if it gets halfway to its targets it will be an achievement

The Malaysian government has just executed a 5G U-turn as part of a scramble to get the country into the leading pack of  5G-deploying nations in Asia. Not only that but it has decided to drive forward with a plan to fund and direct both fibre infrastructure and a wholesale 5G network which will be developed using special-purpose vehicles through which the government  will own and administer the 5G spectrum, with all telecoms companies assured of a fair share.

The plan is certainly bold and flush with techno-optimism. Up to recently Malaysia’s 5G policy had been to hang back while giving  fixed broadband and 4G priority and only starting on a  5G phase once 3G was shut down by the end of this year.  

But now all that’s in the past and it’s full steam ahead, no time to lose. The Malaysian government even expects that some citizens will see the first green shoots of 5G by the end of this year, though full scale 5G coverage would be about 10 years away. 

Even so its neck-snapping change of approach can be seen as highly ambitious not to say risky.


5G Wholesale Network

The big ticket item will be a circa US$4 billion spend on a nationwide 5G network which is to act as a national wholesale network for Malaysia’s network operators. 

The government estimates that building the network will result in about 105,000 jobs and will also to be implemented through a special purpose vehicle (SPV), overseen by the government, which will manage the spectrum and all the licensed telcos will have equal access to the infrastructure to market 5G services to their customers. 

Cloud is part and parcel of the plans. The government has given conditional permission to  Microsoft, Google, Amazon and Telekom Malaysia   to build and manage hyper-scale data centres and cloud services in the country.

The government has also proposed the appointment of three local ICT companies as managed service providers (MSPs) to work and manage services for public sector agencies. 

Secondly, a total of RM1.65 billion will be invested by several telcos to strengthen international submarine cable network connectivity by 2023. This will open doors for faster and more stable data transfers and is expected to lower Internet costs to consumers.

Thirdly, a total of RM15 billion will be invested over the next 10 years for the implementation of 5G nationwide. This will create approximately 105,000 job opportunities. The effort will be implemented through a special purpose vehicle (SPV) under the Malaysian government.

The SPV will be given the spectrum to manage and all licensed telecom companies will have equal access to infrastructure to market 5G services to their customers.”

Meanwhile, between RM12 billion and RM15 billion is expected to be invested by cloud service providers (CSP) over the next five years. The government has given conditional permission to four companies – Microsoft, Google, Amazon and Telekom Malaysia   – to build and manage hyper-scale data centres and cloud services in the country.

The government has also proposed the appointment of three local ICT companies as managed service providers (MSPs) to work and manage services for public sector agencies, in line with the desire to strengthen the capabilities of local companies.

To make all this infrastructure investment pay off the government is pursuing  a ‘Cloud First’ strategy –  targeting the migration of 80% of public data to a hybrid cloud system by the end of 2022, it claims The cloud services will enable big data, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and other applications to strengthen government services.

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