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5G networks

Malaysia's Maxis and Celcom to jointly roll out 5G network

Both companies said they remain competitive in other areas

Women use their smartphones in Kuala Lumpur. (Photo by Shinya Sawai)

KUALA LUMPUR -- Malaysian telecommunications companies Celcom Axiata and Maxis signed an agreement on Monday to jointly roll out fifth-generation network infrastructure in the country.

The companies said the collaboration would enable them to explore possible business opportunities in key strategic areas. The goal is to deliver 5G technologies to people and businesses in Malaysia as soon the spectrum is available.

Celcom and Maxis will maintain their respective networks "and remain competitive in other areas," the two companies said in a joint press statement.

"We believe collaboration is the way forward for the industry and working with Maxis to explore a more coordinated 5G deployment in Malaysia is something we are excited about," said Celcom CEO Idham Nawawi.

"We welcome the idea of collaborating with Celcom for 5G network-sharing," said Maxis CEO Gokhan Ogut. "We are already sharing towers, fiber and working together on connectivity for rural areas ... This helps us save resources and accelerate a rollout." He added that such cooperation was "important in supporting Malaysia's ambition in driving the digital economy."

The two companies began their 5G journeys more than two years ago, beginning with technology assessments and have since progressed to full-fledged 5G trials.

Malaysian is targeting a 5G rollout as early as next year and Maxis has said it was aiming for the second half of 2020.

Celcom, meanwhile, deployed the country's first 5G live cluster field trial late July. Its rival DiGi.Com has a 5G OpenLab in Cyberjaya, an area in which businesses, academics and tech developers can test their 5G use cases.

According to a recent study commissioned by Cisco and conducted by consulting firm A.T. Kearney, Malaysia's 5G services rollout could boost annual revenues for Malaysian telecom companies by as much as 3.76 billion ringgit ($900 million) from the beginning of 2025.

Singapore and Malaysia are aggressively pushing 5G rollouts. Malaysia has allocated a 50 million ringgit grant for the development of 5G ecosystem, and 25 million ringgit in matching grants for pilot projects in fiber optics and 5G infrastructure.

Singapore is aiming to roll out four commercial 5G networks in 2020. By the end of 2022, it expects to have at least 50% of the country covered by a stand-alone network, the country's telecom regulator Infocomm Media Development Authority said in October.

KrASIA is a digital media company focused on technology-driven businesses and trends across the Asia-Pacific region. It is part of 36Kr, a tech news portal based in Beijing. Nikkei has a minority stake in 36Kr.

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