Malaysia on track to become potential 5G pioneer in region, say experts

Jerry Choong
Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo speaks to reporters after the launch of the GSMA Mobile 360 exhibition in Kuala Lumpur September 24, 2019. ― Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 24 — Malaysia’s efforts in collaborating with telecommunications industry players as well as roping in the public to support its 5G initiatives will help the country become a pioneer of the technology in the region, said an expert.

GSMA Asia Pacific head Julian Gorman said the steps taken by the Malaysian government, such as forming a 5G taskforce and preparing a report on 5G usage in the country are “positive” steps in the right direction.

“This as well as the upcoming trials to give the public access to 5G, is about exposing them to such technology.

“It is amazing how even in this global world, not all countries or consumers have adopted to technologies such as 5G,” he said during GSMA’s Mobile 360 exhibition at the JW Marriott Hotel.

In his speech at the exhibition’s launch, Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo said the initial 5G testbeds first launched in April in Putrajaya and Cyberjaya will be extended nationwide via demonstration projects which will begin next month.

With the government’s 5G initiatives, which is part of the National Fiberisation and Connectivity Plan frequently spoken of by Gobind, Gorman said this means Malaysia will not “start cold” when others also begin to adopt the technology within the next five years or so.

“If you just wait for 5G without preparing, thinking that it is something that will work simply by turning it on, them I am sorry it is not going to happen.

“If the government keeps up its current efforts, it is likely that by 2025 Malaysia will be in a more solid position when it comes to 5G, compared to its neighbours,” he said, adding that this positional advantage can also propel Malaysia as a 5G pioneer in the region.

When asked about what challenges Malaysia may face in trying to implement 5G, Gorman’s colleague and GSMA Intelligence senior manager Jan Stryjak said it will be to find a primary use for the technology.

“Since most of the talk about using or implementing 5G is centered around developed and industrialised nations, developing countries like Malaysia need to figure out how best to use it.

“For example, the development of autonomous or driverless cars may not be the primary focus for countries like Malaysia. So do you use 5G for commercial, social, industrial or even governance reasons?” he said.

Stryjak also added that another challenge Malaysia faces is convincing the wider population to adopt 5G over older technologies.

“4G has its uses, but the government needs to make a clear case to the public as to how adopting 5G will bring about its relevant benefits and advantages,” he said.

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