PETALING JAYA: The government should not have rushed to roll out 5G services through Digital Nasional Bhd, said internet veteran Mohamed Awang Lah, who contends that mobile operators should have been given the freedom to roll out their own networks.
He said the government should have helped to first establish a dark fibre network – without traffic or services running on it.
Mohamed, former CEO of Jaring, Malaysia’s first internet provider, said the RM16.5 billion allocated to DNB for the 5G rollout would have been more than sufficient to build the dark fibre network.
The money could also have been used to build cell towers and monopoles which would have resolved problems of slow broadband and dropped calls, he said.
”We could have resolved the digital divide. No need to climb trees for a 4G signal,” he told FMT, referring to news reports in 2020 of a student who was forced to climb a tree to get a better internet connection for an exam.
Mohamed, better known as Mal, made his comments in response to news reports of disappointment in 5G communications technology following the hype that initially surrounded the new technology.
Mohamed said that generally when new technology is introduced, proponents would hype it up and “budgets were sought after to gamble with the future”.
The case was similar for DNB, he said, with base stations still being built. In March, it was reported that DNB had spent RM1.89 billion in 2022, with close to 4,000 5G sites completed.
“Now its future has a lot of question marks,” Mohamed said.