PETALING JAYA: The government has awarded the 5G telecommunications spectrum to several firms including one called Altel, which is controlled by tycoon Syed Mokhtar al-Bukhary.
The Straits Times (ST) reported that the May 15 decision, “seemingly without an open tender”, was signed off by Communications and Multimedia Minister Saifuddin Abdullah. The decision was also unannounced.
A source confirmed the report’s claim to FMT, acknowledging that the award had been made.
In January, Bloomberg reported that Malaysia was offering airwaves for 5G networks at little cost to carriers to reduce the investment needed for the speedier wireless service.
The government – then under Pakatan Harapan – would forgo revenue from spectrum auctions and instead allocate airwaves to a consortium of carriers via a tender starting after April.
But ST said a check of the MCMC website found that no tenders were called.
Executives from various telecom firms also told the Singapore daily they were unaware of any invitations to bid for the spectrum.
“It is strange because some of the companies that were awarded are public listed. They would have to announce it to the stock exchange once they are aware as there are also hundreds of millions in fees involved,” an executive who spoke on condition of anonymity was quoted as saying.
According to ST, Maxis, Celcom and DiGi were awarded two bands of 10 megahertz (2x10MHz).
Altel, a subsidiary of Syed Mokhtar’s Puncak Semangat, was given 2x5MHz “despite being a minor player.
Telekom Malaysia was also allocated 2x5MHz.
FMT has contacted Saifuddin and is awaiting a response.
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