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THE government is willing to consider financial incentives to assist telcos in their transition to 5G, to mitigate any short-term commercial consequences.
Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz said the availability and adoption of 5G contributes to the nation’s digital ambitions, while ensuring connectivity as a basic right for Malaysians.
“As I mentioned earlier, 5G will boost the economy by RM650 billion and create 750,000 high-value jobs between now and 2030.
“Hence, the success of our 5G deployment is a matter of public interest,” he said in an interview with The Straits Times today.
Tengku Zafrul said the deadline for Malaysian telcos to decide whether to take up stakes in Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB) is still the end of this month because all stakeholders must share a sense of urgency for Malaysia to step up its connectivity game – for businesses, for manufacturing and for our people – to remain competitive in the region.
“DNB and the telcos have been asked to meet the June 30 deadline. The majority of the process should be completed by then. If an extension is required, the process may be extended until early July, but no later than that.
“It is now moving in the right direction, toward our primary goal of providing 5G services to as many users and businesses as possible in the shortest amount of time, allowing Malaysia to catch up with its regional peers,” he said.
In the medium to long term, he said these telcos will reap the benefits of 5G without the need for additional government assistance.
“The larger issue is Malaysians’ and businesses’ access to 5G technology. If telcos, particularly the larger ones, continue to delay providing 5G services to their customers, as recently mentioned by the Minister of Communications and Multimedia, his ministry will consider other options, such as issuing new licences to new players to enable the speedy delivery of 5G services.
“Indeed, the interests of Malaysia and its people must take precedence over the telcos’ narrow commercial interests,” he said.
According to the minister, the first stage of the equity take-up process, which involved gathering feedback from telcos on a confidential consultation document issued by DNB, was successfully completed in early June where all invited parties provided constructive feedback.
“We are now in the second stage, which is the distribution of a term sheet for the telcos’ equity participation.
“This term sheet summarises the key terms under which DNB will be governed as an entity with both the Ministry of Finance (MoF) and telcos as shareholders.