MCMC publishes final report on spectrum allocation plans; expects commercial 5G rollouts by 3Q20

2 Jan 2020

A final report on the allocation of spectrum, including frequencies suitable for 5G, has been published by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), following a public inquiry that it published last September. In a press release, the MCMC noted that the position taken in the final report ‘reflects both MCMC’s deliberation of the responses to the [public inquiry], and an assessment of current developments globally in relation to 5G deployment’.

As per the report, the MCMC confirmed it has identified the 700MHz, 3.5GHz and 26GHz-28GHz bands as the pioneer spectrum bands for the rollout of 5G in Malaysia. Of particular note, it said the 700MHz and 3.5GHz bands are being considered for allocation to a single entity comprising a consortium formed by multiple licensees, instead of individual licensees, with the MCMC to undertake a tender process for this purpose. According to the regulator, such an approach is intended to lower capital expenditures by minimising costs and preventing the duplication of infrastructure. As this is a new approach, the MCMC has said it will only make available 2×30MHz in the 700MHz band and 100MHz in the 3.5GHz band, with the remaining spectrum in these bands to be considered for assignment ‘at a later stage’.

Meanwhile, the assignment of the 26GHz-28GHz bands will be conducted via two methods; frequencies in the 24.9GHz-26.5GHz range will reportedly be assigned through a tender process (beauty contest) to licensees on a nationwide basis; and spectrum between 26.5GHz and 28.1GHz will be assigned on a first-come first-served basis and will be open to any party (including non-licensees) for the purpose of deploying localised and/or private networks. According to the MCMC, the assignments for spectrum in the 26GHz-28GHz bands will be made by way of apparatus assignment (AA), with it suggesting that the appropriate spectrum fee through AA ‘is more economical, and will encourage network deployment by the service provider’.

Once the assignment processes are completed, the MCMC has said it expects commercial 5G deployments in Malaysia to begin by the third quarter of 2020. Meanwhile, the regulator also confirmed that existing spectrum allocations for 4G deployments will be maintained; specifically it said that current 2300MHz and 2600MHz spectrum allocations will remain valid until December 2021, with a further review of these frequencies to be undertaken that year.