Fahmi: Telcos have 20 days to finalise DNB share subscription agreement

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

PUTRAJAYA, May 21 — Telecommunication companies will have 20 days to finalise the remaining share subscriptions of Digital Nasional Berhad, Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil revealed today as the Anwar government expressed hope the firms would sign on the deal to keep the 5G network distribution rights government-owned despite initial hesitation.

Several major mobile network operators were reportedly resistant to the share subscription agreement presented by Putrajaya which led negotiations to drag on, fuelling speculation that the deal could fall and ultimately collapsing the DNB project.

Fahmi said the 20-day deadline, a Cabinet decision, had been conveyed to directors from each telco company at a high-powered meeting yesterday, which the minister suggested was reached now that 5G coverage has surpassed over 81 per cent nationwide.

"We told each board of director members from the telcos that they have 20 days to make a few decisions and so we anticipate after the period, we hope the SSA will be completed and finalised the equity holdings in DNB," the minister said at the weekly post-Cabinet press conference here.

The SSA is one of the primary conditions for telcos to access shares of the second 5G distributor entity the Anwar government announced last year, a move industry observers believe was meant to placate the companies that baulk at the single network system that would see DNB have control over 5G distribution

DNB was introduced by former prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin's government which touted the single network system was meant to make 5G technology cheap and accessible. DNB was meant to bolster "digitalisation" as policymakers look to the internet-based economy as a means to achieve what it calls "high-income status".

The Multimedia and Communication Commission is expected to open the tender for the second 5G network entity soon, Fahmi told reporters today.

"Not long from now MCMC will announce the tender process that would allow telcos to be involved and bid for shares in the second network provider. But the precondition is only companies that have finalised the SSA (with DNB) can bid for the tender," he said.

The government earlier last year agreed to the setting up of a second purely commercial entity that would help develop a second 5G network in a decision widely seen as a compromise after MNOs had threatened to boycott signing up for DNB shares.

Channel News Asia quoted sources as saying that MNOs likely agreed to the DNB share take-up because they are allowed to form the second entity, among other conditions.