KUALA LUMPUR (July 7): All of the country's main telecommunications companies are now supportive of the government's desire to have a single wholesale network (SWN) to implement 5G nationwide, said Axiata Group Bhd chairman Tan Sri Shahril Ridza Ridzuan.
“I think it's very clear that essentially the whole industry is now in line with the government’s aspiration of a single wholesale network,” Shahril Ridza told reporters at the launch of the edotco 2021 Sustainability Blueprint and Report 2021 on Thursday.
The telco players agreed recently to take up a stake in Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB), the special-purpose vehicle set up to roll out the 5G network nationwide.
DNB chief executive officer Ralph Marshall said on July 1 that the proposed sale of 70% of the company's equity to the telcos is expected to be completed in two months.
“The six MNOs (mobile network operators) have signed the Access Request Application Forms and they have also signed off on the term sheets, which will then lead to the shareholders' agreement and subsequently the Access Agreement," Marshall had said.
Shahril Ridza said negotiations remain ongoing between the parties on two aspects, namely allocation of shares and commercial agreements.
“At this stage it's very hard for me to comment further but all players as far as I know are committed to this,” he said.
Shahril Ridza said Axiata's unit Celcom Axiata Bhd as well as Digi.Com Bhd, which are in the process of merging, are both committed to deploying accessible and affordable 5G access to consumers.
The two telcos recently received a notice of no objection from the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission to proceed with the proposed merger of their telco operations.
The nod from the regulator came a day before the June 30 deadline for telco operators to subscribe to a stake in DNB as part of a compromise to roll out the infrastructure under the SWN model.
“We need to make sure we’re ready in terms of access and ownership of a portion of DNB. It must be done in a fair manner to ensure that the industry won't feel that we are unnecessarily and unfairly dominating the position,” said Shahril Ridza.
He was referring to the situation where DNB’s 70% stake sale may not result in equal shareholding among participating telcos in the event of any merger among them.