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5G adoption grows among Malaysian telcos

PETALING JAYA (ANN/THE STAR) – Telecommunications companies in Malaysia are witnessing an adoption rate of over 50 per cent among customers with 5G compatible devices according to Malaysia’s Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil.

During his speech in Parliament on Wednesday, the minister cited a report from connectivity intelligence company Ookla, Fahmi said telcos that don’t automatically offer 5G services recorded approximately only 50 per cent adoption rate among its customers with 5G-capable devices.

Fahmi also said in his speech that currently Yes, U Mobile and Unifi are offering 5G automatically to users while Maxis and CelcomDigi have additional charges for selected customers who want to subscribe or upgrade to 5G.

The Ookla report published on October 30 revealed that despite the fact that half their subscriber base own 5G-capable devices, only 16.7 per cent of Celcom’s and 21.6 per cent of Digi’s customers have conducted 5G speed tests in Q3 2023.

A file photo of Malaysia’s Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil. PHOTO: BERNAMA

It also reported Maxis, which has the highest percentage of customers with 5G-capable devices with 62.8 per cent, saw only 33 per cent of its customers perform tests on 5G.

This, he said, emphasised the need for telcos to automatically include 5G services for users without imposing additional charges.

Ookla also highlighted the fact that for these operators, “approximately 30 per cent of their customer base that own 5G-capable devices have yet to initiate a speed test on the 5G network.

“There is an opportunity to transition these customers to adopt 5G as they likely have not yet subscribed or reside in areas without 5G coverage,” Ookla said in its report, adding that the companies impose an additional surcharge of between MYR10 to MYR20 monthly for customers on lower-tier plans to upgrade to 5G.

The report said Yes has 53.3 per cent of users with 5G devices who have already conducted 5G speedtest in Q3 2023, while the number stands at 40.7 per cent for U Mobile and 38.9 per cent for Unifi.

As of September, Fahmi said Digital Nasional Berhad, the country’s wholesale 5G network operator, has achieved 70.2 per cent network coverage in populated areas. He also said that the country is on track to achieve 80 per cent 5G network coverage by the end of the year.

“However, there is still room for improving the 5G adoption rate in Malaysia. As of September 30, 2023, the utilisation or adoption rate of 5G is at 9.1 per cent, which represents a nine-fold increase compared to the adoption rate of one per cent at the end of 2022,” he added.

As part of an effort to increase the 5G adoption rate, Fahmi said the government has also introduced the 5G Rahmah package where telcos offer affordable rates to low income groups and civil servants.

As of September 30, Fahmi said the total number of 5G Rahmah Package subscriptions is 50,991 units while total number of subscriptions for those in the B40 group is 42,649 or 42 per cent of the total quota for B40 group under the package.