Cheaper Internet Prices With Expansion of 5G Network Coverage

KUALA LUMPUR: The move to expand the 5G network coverage, which the government announced under Budget 2023, can further lower the internet prices offered to users now.

Deputy Communications and Digital Minister Teo Nie Ching said this was because Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB), the body responsible for the development of the network, has offered 5G services for RM0.13 sen per gigabyte (GB), through a reference cost offer.

According to her, the price offered is lower compared to the current cost of 5G services, which is RM1.68 cents per GB.

“So, we believe that with (this move of) expanding the 5G network coverage, the prices of our internet can be lowered further,” she said during the question and answer session in the Dewan Rakyat today.

She was answering a supplementary question from Lim Guan Eng (PH-Bagan), who wanted to know if the cost of 5G services can be reduced if it is implemented nationwide.

Teo said that, currently, the implementation level of 5G services is 54.7 per cent and the ministry is confident of achieving its target of 80 per cent coverage for populated areas like Cameron Highlands (Pahang) and Sibu (Sarawak) by end of this year.

She said the government would also ensure the cost of implementing 5G services would remain at RM16.5 billion to enable users to enjoy the internet at a reasonable price.

When replying to a supplementary question from Rushdan Rusmi (PN-Padang Besar) about whether DNB will continue to be owned by the Ministry of Finance or be authorised to be operated by another telecommunication company (telco), Teo said discussions on that matter have begun so that the telco will also have shares in DNB.

“But, so far, the agreement (discussions) have not been finalised yet and we (the ministry) together with the telco are negotiating because the telco has several questions… if it acquires DNB shares, what are its rights as a shareowner?

“So, there are details that need to be refined before the telco makes a decision,” she said.

Meanwhile, in reply to Lim’s original question of asking the ministry to state the cost and quality of 5G services offered by the company to users and efforts to lower it further until it is the cheapest in ASEAN, Teo said the prices offered by the service provider is determined by market forces.

According to her, if the market fails to function efficiently, then the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) can intervene in setting the prices.

“However, the MCMC regulates access prices at the wholesale level, with “wholesale” permission through the legal instrument of the Commission Determination on the Mandatory Standard on Access Pricing or MSAP and studies on these access prices are made periodically.

“Through regulation at the wholesale level, it can indirectly reduce prices at the retail level, to consumers to a more competitive level,” she said.

She said the 5G services have just been offered in Malaysia and that, for now, service providers are adopting a neutral technology concept in offering prices with no difference between 5G and 4G services. – BERNAMA