Putrajaya backtracks on 5G awards

Communications and Multimedia Minister Saifuddin Abdullah says bandwidths are national assets by law and their efficient management is crucial to the development of the communications sector. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, June 3, 2020.

THE government today rescinded an order to award 5g broadband frequency bands to five companies, said Saifuddin Abdullah.

“Due to technical and legal reasons and the need for a more transparent process, I have instructed the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) chairman to cancel all awards pertaining to the bandwidths and to review them,” said the communications and multimedia minister in a statement today.

Saifuddin did not provide further explanation for the cancellation.

He said the bandwidths were national assets by law and their efficient management was crucial to the development of the communications sector.

It was reported on Tuesday that the ministry had awarded the 700MHz bands for the 5G network to Telekom Malaysia, Celcom Asiata Bhd, Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd, Maxis Broadband Sdn Bhd and Altel Communications Sdn Bhd.

TM received the bands 718MHz-723MHz and 773MHz-778Mhz; Maxis, 733MHz-743MHz and 788MHz-798MHz; Celcom, 723MHz-733MHz and 778MHz-788MHz; Digi, 703MHz-713MHz and 758MHz to 768MHz; and Altel, 713MHz-718MHz and 768MHz-773MHz.

Saifuddin had issued the order on May 15.

Meanwhile, Saifuddin’s predecessor, Gobind Singh Deo, said the Perikatan Nasional government’s allocation of the 700 MHz spectrum bands through ministerial order contrasted with the open tender process preferred by the previous administration.

“This is a matter of great concern which calls for an urgent explanation.

“The Pakatan Harapan government was not inclined to award the spectrum bands by way of ministerial order. 

“We chose to adopt an approach with greater transparency and accountability (and) initiated a process to award the 700 MHz that began with a public inquiry (by MCMC) in July 2019. 

“The findings specifically stated that the 700MHz bands would be assigned through a tender process,” Gobind said in a statement today.

He said the open tender process would have identified the licencees with the best business plan and  best track record for the awards. – June 3, 2020.

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