Celcom to shutter 3G network in stages; ready for 5G launch by end-2021

8 Sep 2021

Malaysian mobile network operator (MNO) Celcom plans to shut down its 3G network on a sequential basis, The Malaysian Reserve reports, citing comments made by the company’s CEO Mohamad Idham Nawawi. According to the official, the MNO expects the closure of its 3G infrastructure to be carried out in phases, starting from this month and concluding by 31 December 2021.

Mohamad Idham noted that Celcom had carried out two 3G sunset proof-of-concept (PoC) trials between April and June in the towns of Semenyih and Klang in Selangor state, while last month it completed the first pilot cluster 3G shutdown in the capital, Kuala Lumpur. ‘We are on track with our plan for nationwide 3G shutdown in stages from end-September until [31 December 2021]. This is something [in which we will] work very closely with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission,’ he confirmed.

Meanwhile, Mohamad Idham said Celcom was being ‘very careful’ with the closure of its 3G infrastructure in order to ensure its does not impact subscribers. With the telco understood to be advising customers to transition to a 4G-enabled device ahead of the shutdown, it was reported that around 98% of devices on its network are already 4G-enabled. With regards to those customers still connecting via older technology, he added: ‘There is a lot of work to be done in terms of understanding how many 3G users are still within the cluster before we take the steps of shutting it down … The moment we shut it down we also monitor the clusters, the performance for both data and voice performance from the cluster that we shut down.’

In separate but related news, The Edge Markets reports Mohamad Idham as confirming that the company is ready to launch 5G services by the end of 2021. Although 5G infrastructure in Malaysia is set to be rolled out by a single company – Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB), a special purpose vehicle (SPV) wholly owned by the Ministry of Finance – Celcom is said to have been preparing for the advent of the technology, with the executive noting: ‘We have embarked on the 5G journey for a while and we have done more than 50 use cases throughout the year, such as in Langkawi, Petaling Jaya, Sunway and with other partners. We have had some discussions with the government’s 5G SPV and yes, we are technically ready and prepared to roll out as soon as the network is available.’

Malaysia, Celcom Axiata