Celcom Axiata Bhd (“Celcom”), Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd (“Digi”), and Maxis Berhad (“Maxis”) announced that they have concluded a Definitive Agreement to jointly develop and share fibre infrastructure, allowing for faster and more efficient deployment of fibre backhaul to base stations and avoiding duplication of fibre infrastructure in the country. This collaboration will enable improved widespread of 4G connectivity to all Malaysians and increase the country’s fibre infrastructure in line with ambitions under the National Digital Infrastructure Plan (JENDELA), as well as preparing for tower infrastructure for a 5G future.
In accelerating a joint rollout, the three operators are combining their expertise in designing, building, commissioning, operating, and maintaining related fibre infrastructure nationwide. The operators will also work on intensifying the sharing of fibre infrastructure and enhancing mutual swapping arrangements.
The collaboration essentially leverages on the strengths of fibre technology to complement microwave in providing an efficient backhaul combination. While the microwave technology will bring the advantages of fast deployment, nevertheless fibre infrastructure upgrades will enable the three operators to be better prepared for internet traffic growth especially in high impact areas. The collaboration would also allow the industry to extend 4G mobile backhaul to support 5G new sites and fibre to the home expansion.
Infrastructure, tower and bandwidth sharing among operators are a common practice. Celcom, Digi and Maxis have been engaged in fibre infrastructure sharing since 2005 with bandwidth capacity as a start, to fibre-cable sharing in 2010. Tower sharing has also been ongoing before 2000.
The announcement comes a year after the three telcos signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to explore leveraging each other’s resources to deploy a wider, more efficient fibre network, signifying a progress milestone in advancing Malaysia towards a digital nation with the provision of quality digital connectivity nationwide. Furthermore, as Malaysia accelerates its plan for 5G deployment as part of MyDIGITAL’s ambition, a denser, fibre-rich infrastructure will be needed to deliver 5G’s key performance indicators: low latency, higher data speeds, ultra-high reliability and capacity to manage more connected devices.
The fibre collaboration is effective for 20 years. Planning is well underway in preparation for joint build and swapping arrangements that is expected to take place hereafter. Other operators may also leverage the opportunity to tap into additional network capacity from the three telcos.
(This content is surmised from a press release)