Sunday, 05 July 2020

Malaysian govt quietly hands out 5G spectrum, seemingly foregoing open tender

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Tuesday 02 June 20

The 5G spectrum has been allocated to a number of players, including Altel, a firm with connections to the Malaysian governments

Although initially unannounced to the public, the Straights Times is now reporting that on May 15th the Malaysian government allocated 5G spectrum to a number of operators, seemingly without participating in an open tender process.   Spectrum in the 700MHz band was allocated to all the major players…

Although initially unannounced to the public, the Straights Times is now reporting that on May 15th the Malaysian government allocated 5G spectrum to a number of operators, seemingly without participating in an open tender process.
 
Spectrum in the 700MHz band was allocated to all the major players: Maxis, Celcom, and DiGi were all given two bands of 10 MHz, while government-owned Telekom Malaysia was given two bands of 5 MHz. Interestingly, Altel, a much smaller firm, was also allocated two bands of 5 MHz.
 
“The commission (MCMC) will take immediate action under the act and laws on relevant subsidiaries to implement the spectrum assignment to all license holders that have been mentioned in section 4 of this order,” said Datuk Saifuddin bin Abdullah, Malaysia’s minister of communications and multimedia.
 
The Straights Times notes that Altel’s owner, Syed Mokhtar, runs various monopolies based on government licences and his close relationship with the government may explain the smaller company’s licence allocation.
 
This news of the allocation will come as a shock to many, since an open tender for the 5G spectrum had been promised since last year. However, the previous administration has since been ousted as part of an ongoing political crisis, with the new administration seemingly having different plans for the country’s 5G spectrum. 
 
Nonetheless, this allocation is likely a move to help facilitate the National Fiberisation and Connectivity Plan, a four-year strategy for improving digitalisation within the country that was first implemented in 2019.
 
Whether any money has changed hand in exchange for these licences remains also unclear. Last year, the operator Maxis proposed that a 2x10MHz band in the 700MHz range could be charged at around $75.58 million, thus the amount of spectrum allocated could have been expected to raise around $302 million.
 
 
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