Year-end 80 pct 5G population coverage target within reach - Analysts

07 May 2023 - Bernama

Kuala Lumpur, 9 May (Bernama) - Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB) and mobile network operators (MNOs) could use 4G existing sites to meet the 80 per cent 5G population coverage target by year-end, say analysts.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia Faculty of Engineering Senior Lecturer Prof Dr Tharek Abdul Rahman said the 5G rollout in the country has reached 57.8 per cent so far while the nation's 4G network coverage encompasses 96.92 per cent 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 per cent 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 per cent 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 per cent 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 per cent 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 operation and maintenance through robots, connected equipment, AR/VR, real-time automation, and AI-enabled surveillance," he said.


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