Malaysia in 4G mode while others mull 5G: Ericsson

  • 5G will better enable many advanced and emerging technologies
  • Rural areas should be the priority in mobile broadband development
Malaysia in 4G mode while others mull 5G: Ericsson

THERE is no escape – with the perfect storm of 5G (Fifth Generation), the Internet of Things (IoT) and the cloud, digital disruption is coming to every industry in Malaysia.
Yet the country is still caught up in 4G LTE (Fourth Generation/ Long-Term Evolution) mode, lamented Todd Ashton (pic above), head of Ericsson Malaysia and Sri Lanka.
“Smartphone subscription across Malaysia is expected to grow 1.5 times from now until 2020,” he told a post-Mobile World Congress 2016 (MWC 2016) media briefing in Petaling Jaya on April 12.
“As Ericsson’s vision of 50 billion connected devices approaches, three fundamental ICT forces – broadband, mobility and the cloud – are rapidly reshaping value chains, digitalising business models, and creating possibilities that were previously unimaginable,” he added.
But instead of gearing up for 5G, Malaysia is still quite caught up with 4G LTE, Ashton argued.
“There’s still a lot opportunity and things to be done on 4G and a lot of industries will connect via 4G first. But it’s a big deal for Malaysia where it should start thinking about 5G,” he told Digital News Asia (DNA) on the sidelines of the briefing.
Many emerging technologies can be better enabled by 5G, such as the IoT.
Among the examples of Malaysia adopting the IoT is utility company Tenaga Nasional Bhd’s (TNB) smart grid technology, a project that had its pilot last February, and which aims to reduce electricity usage.
Ashton said the big opportunity lies in bringing mobile broadband to various industries – for example, oil palm plantations could use the IoT to time fertiliser use or regulate soil temperature, and 5G would play an important role here.
When asked when Ericsson expects to see 5G coming into Malaysia, he said: “For sure it will be after 2020.
“The first ones you will see having 5G are probably South Korea, Japan and the United States,” he added.
Even just down south from Malaysia, Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (Singtel) has announced ambitious plans to be among the first to roll out 5G in 2020.
Networked Malaysian society
Meanwhile, Ashton argued that rural areas should be the priority in mobile broadband development.
“Telco operators should provide good, high-speed mobile networks at the right price, and of course this would require good network architecture to create good coverage in places like Sabah, Sarawak, Terengganu, and Kelantan,” he said, referring to Malaysia’s less-developed states.
“I believe even industries like fishing can have more connectivity and innovation with proper broadband. Rural areas stand to benefit a lot,” he declared.
Ashton said Ericsson is already working closely with various industries to create a ‘networked society’ in Malaysia, through collaborations with its local 5G and IoT partners.
These partners include Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and Lumeiwah Sdn Bhd.
Last October, Ericsson entered into a partnership with UTM to research and develop 5G mobile communication technology.
Then in November 2015, it tied up with Lumeiwah for the Connected Mangroves initiative, utilising IoT and cloud technologies to better manage the growth of new mangrove saplings.
Lumeiwah managing director Shamry Mubdi declared that innovative IoT applications are increasing the quality, quantity, sustainability, and cost-effectiveness of agriculture.
“It allows us to leverage ICT for livestock tracking, and detecting soil moisture and air temperature, and to adapt our practices accordingly to increase yield,” he said.
Ericsson MWC roundup
Meanwhile, Ashton also reiterated the many announcements that Ericsson had made at MWC 2016 in Barcelona earlier this year, which included:

  • Agreements with 20 operators around the world to work together on 5G. 5G radio prototype network field trials will continue with operators during 2016.
  • Ericsson is leading research initiatives for 5G pre-standardisation including 5GEx, METIS II and 5G for Europe; the company said it is committed to continued engagement with industry and society partners.
  • It is active in aligning industry time plans (3GPP, ITU-R) to assure the commercial launch of 5G in 2020.
  • It is also delivering 5G concepts to improve today’s 4G networks – Ericsson Lean Carrier, Elastic RAN, Massive IoT (NB-IoT and LTE-M), among them.


  • Ericsson’s new IoT Transformation offering is a modular set of IoT professional services and software solutions that can be tailored to operators’ needs and IoT ambitions.
  • The company is collaborating with AT&T to bring the operator’s Digital Life solution – which uses IoT technology to transform home security and automation – to service providers outside the United States.


  • Ericsson announced plans to form a global business, technology and services alliance with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to accelerate cloud transformation for telecoms service providers.
  • The company also joined the Open Compute Project to drive the adoption of data centre solutions based on its software-defined infrastructure and Intel’s Rack Scale Architecture.
  • Ericsson and Quanta Computer formed a strategic partnership to accelerate the manufacturing of Ericsson Hyperscale Datacenter System 8000.

Related Stories:
The world gears up for 5G: Ericsson Mobility Report
Mobile data plans need to evolve: Ericsson
Regulators should consider higher frequency bands for 5G: Ericsson
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