Minister Saifuddin Abdullah orders MCMC to allocate spectrum band to five telcos, including Syed Mokhtar’s Altel

Syed Jaymal Zahiid
Minister of Communications and Multimedia Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah issued the directive on May 15. In the letter, the five service providers were to be given the licence with immediate effect. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

KUALA LUMPUR, June 2 — The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has been directed to allocate five firms with the spectrum band for mobile internet services including Altel Communications, the company owned by tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar al-Bukhary.

Minister of Communications and Multimedia Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah issued the directive on May 15. In the letter, the five service providers were to be given the licence with immediate effect.

Aside from Altel, the other companies are Celcom Axiata Berhad, Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd, Maxis Broadband Sdn Bhd, and Telekom Malaysian Berhad.

The directive was issued under Section 7 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (Act 588), according to the letter.

The prioritisation for contract recipients was done under Section 174 of the same Act.

“The commission must take all the immediate steps as provided under provisions of the Act and the relevant subsidiary laws to implement the allocation of the spectrum band to the licensees named in the paragraph above,” the letter read. 

The commission may make changes to the allocation requirements if necessary, the directive added.

MCMC had said in January this year that it would adopt “an innovative and forward-looking approach” on the allocation of spectrum bands to set a critical foundation for the country’s transition toward 5G.

The 700 MHz, 3.5 GHz and 26/28 GHz bands have been identified for the initial deployment of 5G in Malaysia, the commission said in a statement.

In the same statement, MCMC said the 700 MHz and 3.5 GHz bands are being considered for allocation to a single entity comprising a consortium formed by multiple licensees, instead of individual licensees. 

It pledged to undertake a tender process for this purpose.

Altel has been allocated a spectrum band of 713Mhz to 718MHz paired with 768MHz to 773MHz. 

Celcom will be 723MHz to 733MHz paired with 778MHz to 788MHz. Digi has received the lowest allocation, of 703MHz to 713MHz paired with 758MHz to 768MHz.

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