Malaysia 5G bands announced, 700MHz & 3.5GHz allocated to one entity

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has released its final report for its spectrum band allocation for mobile broadband services. This was released following MCMC’s commitment to making its final stand after conducting a Public Inquiry in July 2019. With the upcoming rollout of 5G, the commission has also identified 700MHz, 3.5GHz, 26GHz and 28GHz as the pioneer spectrum bands in Malaysia.

700MHz and 3.5GHz

The 700MHz and 3.5GHz bands will not be allocated to individual licensees. Instead, it will be assigned to a single entity comprising of a consortium that’s formed by multiple licensees. In the report, it says that participants of the consortium may share the required resources to roll out the relevant infrastructure and the provisioning of relevant network services to support 5G.

According to the commission, this single-entity approach will help lower capital expenditure (CAPEX) by minimising costs and prevent duplication of infrastructure while improvements on 4G networks are ongoing.

For now, MCMC will only release 2x30MHz of the 700MHz band and 100MHz for the 3.5GHz band. The remaining frequencies will be considered for assignment at a later stage.

26GHz and 28GHz

The two higher 5G bands – 26GHz and 28GHz, will be assigned in two methods. The 24.9GHz to 26.5GHz frequency bands will be assigned through a tender process (beauty contest) to licensees on a nationwide basis. For the remaining 26.5Hz to 28.1GHz frequency bands, it will be assigned on a first-come-first-served basis and it will be open to any party which include non-licensees for the purpose of deploying localised or private networks.

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A total bandwidth of 3200MHz will be made available for these two bands. Four blocks of 400MHz (1600MHz in total) for 24.9GHz to 26.5GHz will be available on a nationwide basis while the remaining four blocks of 400MHz (1600MHz in total) for 26.5GHz to 28.1GHz will be open to any party for the purpose of localised and/or private networks.

It added that the assignment will be done in a way of apparatus assignment (AA) and the MCMC anticipates that the appropriate spectrum fee through AA is more economical and will encourage network deployment by the service providers. As a result, the cost savings will be passed on to business and consumers to ensure better affordability.

The beauty contest process for the assignment is estimated to commence in Q1 2020. After the assignment processes are completed, the MCMC expects commercial 5G deployment in Malaysia to begin in Q3 2020 and this is in line with the National 5G Task Force’s deliberations.

4G spectrum allocation maintained

There will be no changes to the current allocation for current 4G technologies. The commission states that the existing allocation for 2300MHz and 2600MHz bands will be maintained until December 2021. All telcos are urged to continue deploying mobile broadband services using existing technology in parallel to the necessary preparation towards 5G. MCMC will undertake the necessary review of the bands in 2021.

You can read the full report here.

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Alexander Wong