Wednesday 3 April 2019

Malaysia: 5G Trials and Updates

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has said the optimisation of the existing 4G network is essential before the country can achieve the adoption of 5G network.

While the 5G Taskforce was established by the commission in November 2018, with the aims of exploring practical uses and modes of 5G, as well as to learn and iron out policies, regulations and spectrum planning for 5G, MCMC said full adoption may only take place in a few years’ time. MCMC said in a statement.:

“Thus, what is essential today is for the current network architecture to be fully enhanced and optimised to address congestion and manage high bandwidth. Malaysia’s current network suffers from low throughput of 9 megabit per second (Mbps) or 36% below average during certain times of the day, as a result of congestion or bottlenecks between network elements, i.e. the radio interface and core network,”

This is due to a partially fiberised end-to-end network architecture, and only 40% of the Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) are fully fiberised. Accordingly to MCMC currently, the average 4G download speed in Malaysia stands at 21.1Mbps. 

MCMC chief digital officer Gerard K M Lim said 5G technology promises 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) per user and if the core network upgrade work is overlooked, the same throughput issue will continue to plague the country.

Lim said there would be a potential bottleneck or congestion point between BTS and the core network and therefore, the telecommunication providers must ensure that current 4G access is optimised and at the same time, prepare for the upcoming 5G requirements.
“Ultimately, the goal is to ensure positive customer experience, when it comes to connectivity without any congestion issues."
No doubt 5G connectivity has the potential to grow the economy by delivering the next generation of digital services, said MCMC, adding that technologies like artificial intelligence, virtual reality and massive machine communications will rely on the future deployment of 5G.


The Draft NFCP sets out, among others, the targets, action plans and strategies to accelerate deployment of digital infrastructure. The 5-year plan aims to:

i. address issues that hinder the widespread availability of high quality and affordable
digital connectivity;

ii. support the needs of the country moving forward and harness opportunities offered by
new services / technologies; and

iii. provide clarity in terms of strategic directions for initiatives to support the digital
economy and adoption of future technology. 

Initially, the Draft NFCP outlined 17 targets to be achieved through four (4) action plans:

A. Ensure optimum deployment of digital infrastructure
         1. Average speed of 30 Mbps in 98% of populated areas;
         2. 100% premises passed in State Capitals and selected high impact areas with up
             to 500 Mbps;
         3. 20% of premises passed in sub-urban and rural areas with up to 500Mbps;
         4. Fibre network passes 70% of schools and government offices, hospitals and police
             stations near schools;
         5. Gigabits availability in selected industrial areas and to all State Capitals;
         6. Phasing out of copper network;
         7. Assessment of technical standards that should be mandated for infrastructure
         8. Allocation of 700MHz and reallocation of 2300MHz and 2600MHz;
         9. Mobile coverage along Pan Borneo highway upon completion;
        10. Submarine Cable Landing Centres (‘SCLC’) in Sabah & Sarawak to link directly to
              international cables; and
        11. Policy position on 5G related issues.

B. Provision of affordable services and improve quality to drive the digital economy
        12. Entry level fixed broadband package at 1% of Gross National Income (‘GNI’);
        13. Double the speed at half the price; and
        14. Yearly publication of Quality of Service Report.

C. Promote competition
        15. Extension of liberalisation in key strategic activities.

D. Participation in the digital economy
        16. 100 rural e-commerce fulfilment centres; and
        17. Quality of Service for courier service. 

These initial targets and action plans were prepared based on initial consultations with limited stakeholders as well as from the initial targets announced by the Minister at the “Malaysia : A New Dawn Conference” in October 2018.

In November last year, MCMC established a 5G task force to explore the practical uses and modes of 5G as well as to iron out policies, regulations and spectrum planning of 5G.

Telecommunications providers have been urged to be prepared for the upcoming 5G requirements.

Maxis Bhd has in collaboration with Huawei kicked off the first 5G live trials in Malaysia, specifically in Cyberjaya earlier this week.

The trials will be conducted over six months and are expected to provide a deeper analysis of 5G characteristics, Maxis said in a statement today.

This includes the use of spectrum in higher bands, co-existence with current services, as well as use cases such as Gigabit high speed mobile internet and ultra high-definition virtual reality applications.

"During the trial so far, Maxis recorded close to 3GB per second download speed," they said in the statement.

The trial follows the recent announcement by the government that Cyberjaya and Putrajaya will become the first smart cities in Malaysia to experience 5G technology. According to Maxis:
"Once available, 5G is expected to provide speeds up to ten times higher than what 4G network can do today for applications such as Ultra High-Definition VR and 360 degree viewing. It will also open up new use cases in areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics and drones," 

Malaysia's national telco Telekom Malaysia (TM) is also in the first stages of testing 5G connectivity in the country. The test will be conducted via their internet service provider division Unifi and the first location will be in the town of Puchong in the Petaling Jaya district. Currently, the telco's LTE network is capable of speeds up to 200Mbps, but with the implementation of pre-5G, the speeds will be boosted up to 500Mbps. The Executive Vice President of Unifi Moharmustaqeem Mohammed stated that the transition to 5G will be done seamlessly and customers will not have to change their current packages or equipment.

U Mobile have also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with ZTE to support its 5G deployment goals in Malaysia. This will include various 5G related developments including live testing, 5G showcases as well as Massive MIMO implementation.

According to U Mobile, they have a long standing working relationship with ZTE and it is a logical next step to continue to collaborate on initiatives related to 5G. According to the telco’s CEO, Wong Heang Tuck, U Mobile will be working closely with ZTE to conduct live tests in selected areas in KL city so that Malaysians can experience the power of 5G first hand.

Finally Celcom Axiata Berhad, Malaysia’s leading data network provider, has signed an agreement with Ericsson to expand and upgrade its LTE network in Malaysia. As part of this, Ericsson will supply Radio Access Network (RAN) equipment from its Ericsson Radio System portfolio to help Celcom serve the growing demand for data services in Malaysia. Ericsson’s RAN equipment will also serve as a platform to help Celcom evolve its network to 5G in the coming years.

Mohamad Idham Nawawi, Chief Executive Officer of Celcom Axiata Berhad, says:
“We have been at the forefront of providing our customers with the best data experience, and remain committed to evolve our network with the latest technologies. This partnership is strategic as it will not only help us further expand our LTE footprint but create the base for the launch of 5G services. We will continue to drive technology innovations in Malaysia to bring the latest services, and to enable all Malaysians to participate in the digital economy.” 
In 2017, Ericsson and Celcom performed Malaysia's first ever 5G trial, pioneering the evolution of the nation's telecommunications technology. It was the first 5G trial conducted on the 28 GHz band in South East Asia.

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