PETALING JAYA, 17 July 2023 – CelcomDigi Berhad (CelcomDigi) announced today that the company is partnering Huawei Technologies (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd (“Huawei”) and ZTE (Malaysia) Corporation Sdn Bhd (“ZTE”) for the purchase of network services, solutions and equipment for its nationwide network integration and modernisation project. The company commenced its full-scale programme to build Malaysia’s future digital network recently – integrating and modernising the largest 4G network in Malaysia with the latest LTE and 5G-ready technologies.
This marks one of the largest telecommunications network deployment projects in the country and follows the merger of Celcom and Digi in December 2022. The exercise will entail upgrades and site consolidation of almost 25,000 existing Celcom and Digi sites nationwide. It will involve close to 800 engineers consisting of both skilled local engineers and R&D resources, and more than 250 specialised contractor teams for nationwide installation works, all contributing towards building the nation’s digital ecosystem and economy.
CelcomDigi’s Chief Executive Officer, Datuk Idham Nawawi signed local supply agreements with Huawei Malaysia’s Chief Executive Officer, Simon Sun, and ZTE Corporation’s Senior Vice President, Mei ZhongHua. The signings were witnessed by the Communications and Digital Minister YB Fahmi Fadzil, Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) chairman, Tan Sri Mohamad Salim bin Fateh Din, and CelcomDigi’s Chair of the Board, YM Tengku Dato’ Sri Azmil Zahruddin.
Under the various agreements, CelcomDigi will modernise its nationwide Radio Access Network (RAN) with the latest technologies spanning end-to-end engineering and optimisation services from both Huawei and ZTE. This will offer higher throughputs and a wider network coverage, for the delivery of an improved user experience with higher reliability, stability, and consistency.
The technology solutions will leverage CelcomDigi’s existing spectrum, and utilise the latest Tri-band Radio Units, Dualband Radio Units, and Baseband Radio Units. This will be further complemented by the latest technology that enable lower site footprint, power consumption, and cost efficiency. Both Huawei and ZTE will also manage network densification and site upgrade projects with capacity-enhancing Dual Band Massive MIMO 32T32R technology.
Additionally, CelcomDigi will also implement Intelligent Network Monitoring tools to ensure efficient network operations and maintenance. These tools will enhance CelcomDigi’s quality of service analysis and further develop a strong dynamic response in managing network alerts.
“We are excited with our collaboration with Huawei and ZTE to deploy our network integration and modernisation project. With our combined expertise and resources, the modernised, future-proof network will strengthen CelcomDigi’s ability to better meet customer expectations, maintain our competitive edge, and meet the data demands of an evolving digital landscape. Our integrated and modernised network will be a critical piece in driving CelcomDigi’s ambitions to be the new digital growth engine for the nation that supports the seamless coexistence and evolution of 4G/LTE and future technologies, including 5G,” said Datuk Idham.
This new network is designed to be able to potentially transition seamlessly into a new 5G network with an 18,000-site reach – the right infrastructure to usher Malaysia into the era of ultra-high speeds, low latency, and the opportunities of a more connected future. This is a significant development for CelcomDigi and the industry, and we are excited to be leading the way – now with strategic partners Huawei and ZTE – to realise the potential of our shared digital future,” Datuk Idham added.
"I am very honored to be given the opportunity to witness the signing of the local supply agreement between CelcomDigi and technology partners, Huawei and ZTE. This demonstrates CelcomDigi's commitment to improving 4G networks, especially CelcomDigi’s effort of improving network efficiency. At the same time, CelcomDigi as one of the most important Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in Malaysia, has a role to play by helping to address customer issues, especially in terms of the quality of experience for internet usage. I believe that this matter can be resolved well after several discussions between the telcos and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), said Minister of Communications and Digital, YB Fahmi Fadzil.
CelcomDigi will integrate and modernise the network by clusters, with activities focused on coverage and capacity expansion efforts, upgrading sites with the latest 4G and 5G-ready technologies, as well as streamlining overlapping sites to eliminate duplication. The company said it will maximise its spectrum portfolio to create a multilayer, multiband network, which includes nationwide deployment of the 900MHz spectrum at all sites to improve coverage and indoor service quality. The new network will offer customers a significantly elevated quality of experience, improving reach from 96% to 98% of populated areas nationwide.
As per its Q1 2023 earnings report, the company plans to re-invest 15% to 18% of total revenue in CAPEX to support the network integration and modernisation programme, as well as enhancing existing Celcom and Digi networks. It plans to keep the strong pace of integration execution to complete the network exercise within the next two and a half to three years.
CEO of Huawei Malaysia, Sun said as a global technology leader Huawei is well positioned to provide the technical assistance to CelcomDigi to focus on modernising their network into a more resilient, green, and powerful engine to drive greater business successes in the coming years. “In this fast-paced era, there is a need to make use of more versatile and agile solutions to keep up with the growth of the constantly growing demands of digital services. At the same time, operators globally also need to ensure that operations are performed in a leaner and greener manner. With Huawei's consistent annual Research and Development (R&D) investments constantly in the double-digit percentages, we are confident in rendering our support to CelcomDigi, in transforming their network and in continuously providing them with innovative solutions to improve user experience with green technology as well as in enabling intelligent automation in the near future,” said Sun.
ZTE Malaysia’s CEO, Steven Ge, said: “We are honoured to be chosen as the vendor for network integration and modernisation initiatives for CelcomDigi. We believe that our future-proof technology will help CelcomDigi to reduce its operational costs and improve network performance, enabling them to offer an even better user experience to customers. We are also proud to continue working with the enlarged entity of CelcomDigi following their merger, and we look forward to support Malaysia’s largest telco company in connecting customers through a high-quality network.”