KUALA LUMPUR — Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah has cancelled his own decision on the spectrum band allocation to five service providers, shortly after his directive to the Malaysia Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) was revealed and came under scrutiny.
The communications and multimedia minister said he had ordered the cancellation on technical and legal grounds, while asserting “the need for a transparent process” into the allocation process, now subject to a review.
“In relation to that, 18 instruments including the Order and Decision regarding the use of spectrum band frequencies of 700MHz, 900MHz, and 2600MHz was presented to me,” he added.
A letter detailing his directive for the MCMC to distribute the spectrum band to the companies has prompted accusations of foul play.
It is unclear from the minister’s statement if the move to call off the order suggests he had changed his mind, disagreed with or was not party to the decision.
Detractors have asked if the decision was done via open tender. In a public inquiry process held in June last year, the commission proposed several guidelines for the allocation that included awarding the spectrum through open bidding.
In the original directive, Saifuddin had specified the band width that would go to each of the five companies: Celcom Axiata Berhad, Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd, Maxis Broadband Sdn Bhd, Telekom Malaysian Berhad, and Altel Communications Sdn Bhd — the last one a fledgling firm owned by tycoon Syed Mokhtar Albukhary.
The minister had issued the order under Section 7 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, the letter had stated.
The prioritisation for contract recipients was done under Section 174 of the same Act.
MCMC had said in January this year that it would adopt “an innovative and forward-looking approach” on the allocation of spectrum bands that would lay the work for the country’s transition toward 5G.
The allocation would be done via an open tender process, it said. – malay mail
Gobind: Pakatan did not award 700 MHz spectrum via minister orders, so why is Saifuddin doing it now?
KUALA LUMPUR — Former Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo today demanded his successor Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah answer as to how the decision to award the 700 MHz spectrum to five telecommunication companies via direct awardship was made.
Taking to his Facebook, the Puchong MP and lawyer said that the award of the spectrum to five licensees by the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government via Saifuddin, rather than through an open tender process, is a matter of great concern in need of an urgent explanation.
“When it commenced the process, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) said that it was the first time MCMC was undertaking a PI on spectrum allocation matters. This shift was received well both locally and abroad.
He pointed out that the open tender process was significant, as it would have identified the licensees with the best business plans and with the best track records for implementation, as well as identified ways to lower capital expenditure by minimising costs and prevent the duplication of infrastructure.
He said this could all be done, while leveraging on, and optimising current resources owned and operated by the relevant licensees.
“These steps were meant to ensure that Malaysians would be able to benefit from improved digital infrastructure coverage, high quality connectivity while ensuring the cost of services remained competitive. It is difficult to see how a direct award through ministerial order could in this context, achieve any of these objectives.
“There is therefore now a need for an explanation for the sudden shift in approach. Details of considerations which led to the award of spectrum as announced must be made public soonest possible.
“Details are crucial on this very important spectrum assignment as it would have implications on the development of our digital infrastructure and our economic competitiveness,” he added.
Earlier today, Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil said that the ministerial directive for the MCMC to allocate five firms with spectrum band for mobile internet services without tender, violated the ideals of transparent governance.
He called Saifuddin’s directive shocking, saying it begged the question of how the firms were selected for the allocations.
Fahmi said the MCMC report dated September 29, 2019 also indicated that the majority of companies that responded had called for a tendering process to be done, with almost no one stating that the 2×5 MHz spectrum block was suitable. malay mail