KL, 12 May: By now, it's fair to assume that nobody knows exactly when - or if ever - our proposed 5G network will be completed. It could take two or 22 years. If the government is not careful, it will not take off ever! Read Telcos stall on deal with DNB.
I'm not being dramatic. Consider the facts: we made Langkawi the testbed for out 5G rollout at the end of 2019, before Covid-19 took over our lives. Since then, very little progress has been made. The government set up Digital Nasional Bhd to oversee the roll-out. Good. But opposition from a handful of telco companies, who wanted control of DNB or an alternative to DNB, stalls everything. To appease the telcos, the government bent backwards and even offered them a combined 70 per cent ownership of DNB, which effectively give them the control they had asked for.
But as of today, they are still not pleased. Only TM and Yes have subscribed to DNB's single wholesale network but the two won't be enough.
Did the government allow those telcos to hold the entire nation to ransom? It does look that way, although the telcos would have you believe that they are justified for still being unhappy. Well, I can tell the telcos and PM Ismail Sabri this, too: We - the people - are pissed off. We have put up with so much rubbish for too long and these people continue to take us for granted. We want cheap and efficient 5G, and we want it now!
The government has nobody to blame but itself if this whole saga continues and we, the nation, gets left behind as a result. Ismail Sabri should take inspiration from history. Imagine if governments of yesteryear gave in to opposition to all those developmental projects it had planned, from the North-South Expressway and a new international airport in Sepang to building an administrative capital in Putrajaya and the bridge for Penang. Malaysia would still be backward now if that had been the case.
Other countries are already talking about 6G and even 7G but we're getting all excited about the prospects of Tesla investing in Malaysia!