Altel bags new block of 900MHz spectrum as MCMC quietly publishes new ministerial orders

14 Jun 2021

Spectrum reallocations in the 900MHz and 2100MHz band have come to light, following the publication of several new ministerial directions and determinations by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC). Spotted by local news source The Star, the new ministerial directions and determinations were actually published at the end of last month on the regulator’s website, albeit without fanfare.

As per the first of the ministerial determinations – Determination No. 12 of 2021, dated 31 May 2021 – the communications minister Dato’ Saifuddin Abdullah has confirmed that Altel Communications is to be awarded a new 2×5MHz block in the 900MHz band (880MHz-885MHz/925MHz-930MHz), valid for a five-year term from the date of the assignment of frequencies. Meanwhile, a second ruling – Determination No. 13 of 2021, dated 31 May 2021 – has approved the reallocation of spectrum in the 2600MHz band, with all existing licensees to benefit from a five-year extension to their existing frequency allocations.

Finally, ministerial direction – Direction No. 3 of 2021, ‘On the Deployment of 5G Infrastructure and Network’, again dated 31 May 2021 – has confirmed the appointment of Digital Nasional Berhad as the ‘single neutral party to undertake the deployment of 5G infrastructure and network nationwide, and to provide wholesale 5G services’.

Of note, the latest spectrum decisions echo orders issued around a year ago. As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in June 2020 the communications minister directed the MCMC to: assign spectrum in the 700MHz band to five companies; award a 2×5MHz block in the 900MHz band to Altel; and reallocate 2600MHz frequencies to existing operators. With these orders having been similarly published on the MCMC website without announcement, just a day after local press reports had flagged them up, they were cancelled by the minister, who cited legal and technical issues, as well as the need to ensure ‘a transparent process’.