Is Malaysia Ready To Shift Gears from 4G To 5G?

HIGH HOPES

Is Malaysia Ready To Shift Gears from 4G To 5G?

The groundwork for 5G rollout is expected to kick into high gear in 2019. Suresh Sidhu, CEO of edotco Group weighs in on Malaysia's policy and infrastructure readiness to introduce the game-changing cellular network.

Conversations surrounding the rollout of fifth generation cellular networks, or 5Ghas been talked about for a while now. 2019 is expected to be the year where the transition from 4G to 5G is to kick into high gear.

This as the international protocol for 5G is to be finalised, which will help the telecom industry move toward a single and global standard for 5G. The 5Gspecifications will be deliberated and finalised at the World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 in October in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.

Operators need spectrum at a cost that is sensible. They need to have access to lots of locations

Just how ready is Malaysia to deploy 5G network commercially nationwide? We speak to Suresh Sidhu, Chief Executive Officer edotco Group.

“It expensive to deploy 5G because a lot more sites are needed,” says Sidhu.

“Operators need spectrum at a cost that is sensible. They need to have access to lots of locations. So, if we build 5G in the traditional way - big towers and all, I think it’s just going to be very expensive because we need far too many of them,” he adds. “So, we need to think deployment very differently.”

This is why edotco’s partnership with telecommunications provider Huawei in showcasing the world’s first multi-operator indoor small cells solution at KL Sentral in November, is seen as a key step towards supporting the increase in data consumption needs with more network nodes, without having to build more towers.

Edotco and Huawei also signed a two-year memorandum of understanding for the implementation of next-generation telecommunication solutions to mobile network operators like Celcom, DiGi, U Mobile and Maxis.

The pilot project is seen as a key step towards 5G readiness in the country.

Sidhu views that Malaysia will see 5G in ‘some reasonable form’ by 2020 in dense, urban areas.

The Malaysian government and their current view is that they are very keen on 5G and I believe the operators will probably start demonstrating proof-of-concepts or early use of 5G quite soon

“It may be a little bit of time before we see it fully deployed here and there’s two reasons for it.”

“First, technology always take some time to mature. You may want to deploy the technology but you need vendors like Ericsson or Huawei who can come with mature 5G technology.”

“The second thing is the (readiness) for full 5G mobility. Operators would have to work with government - what is the right spectrum to use and how to deploy more readily? That process with government typically takes some time.”

“My understanding on the Malaysian government and their current view is that they are very keen on 5G and I believe the operators will probably start demonstrating proof-of-concepts or early use of 5G quite soon in this market. We could expect to see something, hopefully by end of 2019.”

“After 2020, the acceleration will depend on the cost of 5G equipment.”

Sidhu views that 5G will be deployed as a fixed wireless option in Malaysia.

“I think 5G, in the initial stages, will be for home broadband supplement for places where fibre can’t be easily accessed,” says Sidhu.

“That’s most likely the case for the first two or three years. Later on, when automation and machine learning really takes off, then maybe it will become a de-facto network. But I would say that so much automation can still be run on 3G or 4G. It’s hard to see which application really needs the latency of 5G at this point in time.”

“A lot of IoT applications can work very nicely on 4G or even on alternative spectrum like public band spectrum. So, operators will pick the most cost effective solution first, and then the most technically perfect solution,” says Sidhu.

Watch the full interview with Suresh Sidhu below: