Malaysia’s state-owned Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB), which provides the only wholesale 5G services in the country, has integrated five domestic operators into its 5G network.
The Edge Market reports that DNB has incorporated Celcom Axiata, Digi Telecommunications, Maxis, Telekom Malaysia, and U Mobile into its 5G network, with a sixth operator on track to be added “at a later date.”
DNB’s CEO Ralph Marshall claimed the act as the world’s first 5G RAN trial integration of more than two operators. He added that the feat was achieved through the MOCN functionality of DNB’s network, which allows the provider to enable access to a single RAN by several operators.
“Each operator operates its own core network, including one or more independent nodes. Each of these multiple core networks can communicate with each other as peers through the software”, said Marshall. He noted that by the end of 2022, DNB will have the capability to integrate 12 operators into its 5G network.
Malaysia’s Communications and Multimedia Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa noted that by integrating operators’ core platforms into its 5G network, DNB would help to reduce to cost of infrastructure investment by avoiding duplicated deployments, with the savings passed on to end users. “This will further enable the accelerated adoption of 5G services in Malaysia and narrow the digital divide”, noted Musa.
DNB chief commercial officer Ahmad Taufek Omar outlined the wholesaler’s charging model while stressing that it would only charge to recover costs. DNB splits its charges into three mechanisms: coverage capacity (i.e. minimum capacity required across all network sites), additional capacity (an option to boost capacity in specific areas) and buffer capacity (further boosts for peak times).
Omar emphasised that “bigger MNOs will have larger requirements and therefore prices will be affected. But once we give the bigger MNO that [adjusted] price, the other MNOs can also request for the same price. There is no such thing as a different price for each MNO.” He underlined that all operators would be offered the same price for DNB’s 5G network, saying that rates were “definitely not discriminatory.”
In July 2021, DNB selected Ericsson to provide network equipment for its 5G infrastructure. The first phase of the network is set to go live in December this year across the cities of Lumpur, Cyberjaya and Putrajaya, with DNB aiming to expand it during 2022 to cover 40% of “populated areas.”