Malaysian media critical of why Ericsson was awarded Malaysia’s entire 5G roll-out

Malaysian media are critical of why government-owned Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB) has awarded a single vendor, Swedish telecom giant Ericsson Malaysia, with contracts amounting to RM11bil to roll out the 5G network in Malaysia.

In a recent article, The Star reports that it is the biggest project given out to the private sector for a very long time and that it is rare for any telecoms operator or a government body to choose just one vendor for such a crucial network infrastructure.

The case consists of many difficult technical details. To name just a few, The Star writes that DNB was aware of the potential controversy but Ericsson’s bid was RM700mil lower than the next bidder. 

The rollout of Malaysia’s entire 5G network should not be limited to DBN alone however critics argue. More vendors should have been awarded the contract as the global norm even for the smallest countries is to have at least two players for 5G development which drives competition, redundancies, and provides jobs to more than one vendor. A spectrum auction would also have generated more income for the country especially in light of the financial crises that the pandemic has caused. 

The Star also questions the very little information that has been issued on the project given the large amount of money involved and challenges DNBs statements regarding the financing of the project. Moreover, the article covers several reasons given by DNB for selecting Ericsson and the process involving the awarding but continues to question why the statement has not explained why many other vendors have been left out although they had been operating in Malaysia, employing many Malaysians.

The article also raises questions about the regulatory framework when asking why Malaysia would want to depend on just a foreign vendor in terms of the security issue and states that the Global System Mobile Communications (GSMA) has also raised questions over this deal. GSMA represents the interest of mobile operators worldwide uniting over 750 operators with nearly 400 companies and according to The Star Online, GSMA has also highlighted concerns over the surrounding governance of DNB. 

Read the full article from The Star with all details on the matter here

About Mette Larsen

ScandAsia Journalist • Scandinavian Publishing Co., Ltd. • Thailand

View all posts by Mette Larsen

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