Celcom, Digi & Maxis collaborate to accelerate country’s fibre infrastructure

Three major telecommunication operators in Malaysia announced yesterday that they are collaborating in deploy the country’s fibre infrastructure. The telco operators, Celcom Axiata Bhd (“Celcom”), Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd (“Digi”) and Maxis Berhad (“Maxis”) signed a Definitive Agreement to collaborate in jointly developing and sharing fibre infrastructure which will allow for faster and more efficient deployment of fibre backhaul to base stations and avoid duplication of fibre infrastructure in the country. 

According to a joint statement released by the operators, 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.

“This partnership will bring about opportunities to avoid infrastructure duplications and enable faster mobile network capacity growth through efficient fiberisation of sites,” said CEO of Digi, Albern Murty. “We will continue to explore synergies in our shared purpose of bringing affordable and high quality 4G connectivity to all consumers while paving the way for 5G technology and services.”

All three operators are combining their expertise in designing, building, commissioning, operating, and maintaining related fibre infrastructure nationwide and will also work on intensifying the sharing of fibre infrastructure and enhancing mutual swapping arrangements. 

“This partnership marks a major milestone for Celcom in driving our ambition towards delivering a great and consistent network experience for all Malaysians and Celcom’s partnership with Maxis and Digi, who are also major telco players in the country, will result in greater cost efficiencies for network infrastructure rollouts and services nationwide, supporting the ever-increasing traffic demand,” said CEO of Celcom, Idham Nawawi. “Celcom will actively continue to collaborate across various industries towards creating a ‘win-win-win’ situation that will benefit the Rakyat, the government, and the Industry.”

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, 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. 

According to the statement, infrastructure, tower and bandwidth sharing among operators are a common practice and 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. 

“We are pleased to see our collaboration progressing to the next level as it supports our collective ambition to provide fibre connectivity that is robust, pervasive, of high-quality and affordable for all Malaysians,” said CEO of Maxis, Gokhan Ogut. “Infrastructure sharing is key to achieving this and enabling better efficiencies especially in narrowing the digital gap and generating a constructive environment for new technologies such as 5G.” 

The fibre collaboration is effective for 20 years and while 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.

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