Malaysia’s Telecommunication Problems

There are two types of transport systems in the world today. The first, is the physical transportation systems of land, air and sea. Other than roads and railways, people of the 21st century have another important transportation system, the internet.

A memorable and satisfying internet browsing experience rest on three factors, namely, cost, speed and quality. Malaysia fails on all three fronts. Regardless of what Malaysian ministers say or do, the Malaysian telecommunications network is pathetic. Way back in 1996 when the Malaysian Multimedia Super Corridor was first conceptualized, Malaysia was on par with South Korea  and Taiwan in terms of broadband penetration rates.

Today, Malaysia is so backward in telecommunications that the country’s name is never mentioned side by side with Korea and Taiwan. While other countries have continuously improved their telecommunications network, Malaysia’s broadband services still suffer from the lack of coverage, frequent disconnection or worse, total breakdowns!

The Problem

The main challenge Malaysians face when it comes to local broadband services is that the choice is severely limited to five players. Yes, five – TM Net, Time dotCom, Maxis Communications Bhd, Jaring and PenangFON (only in Penang). Adding to the degree of lameness in Malaysia’s telecommunication infrastructure is that the broadband speed in the country does not exceed 4Mbps (megabits per second) for retail users – which means you take a whole night just to download a movie!

Up to this point, we were only talking about the Klang Valley aka Malaysia’s urban population. The situation outside the metropolitan area fares far worse. In rural areas, 20 million people still lack access to basic information and communication infrastructure (yes, no internet!). The current broadband penetration in Malaysia is only around 21% (only 7% have high-speed internet access).

The Malaysian Government’s aim of a 50% broadband penetration rate by the end of 2010 seems to me to be wishful thinking!

The internet Journey

Analog

  • Dial up (Narrowband)
  • Speeds up to 64Kbps
  • Static
  • Largely text and images

Digital

  • Broadband
  • Speeds from 384Kbps to 4 Mbps
  • Web 2.0

IP

  • High Speed Broadband
  • Speeds over 10Mbps
  • Visually interactive
  • Enriched digital lifestyle

The Comparisons and Further Problems

Malaysia should look South! Tiny Singapore is one of the world’s most wired nation with a broadband penetration of 99.9%! Yes, I am aware of Singapore’s relative size that makes it easier to provide coverage and build infrastructure, but Malaysia can’t even get the communication system in the Klang Valley to work properly!

Furthermore, Singapore does not stand alone. South Korea (93%), Hong Kong (83.8%) and Taiwan (76.8%) are all countries with high broadband penetration.

Information and communication technology (ICT) is now a major criteria to sustain a country’s economic prosperity. High-speed internet access is one of the ways to attract foreign investors as video-conferencing and data transfers are now a necessity for a company’s global operations.

The solution to Malaysia’s snail-paced internet woes lies not in just pumping money into telecommunications but to break the monopoly of TM (Telekom Malaysia). TM has a near monopoly for internet services in Malaysia. About 96% of the fibre in the country is owned by TM.

This of course, gives TM alot of bargaining power when dealing with their customers. In order to modernize our telecommunications system,  it is imperative that we must destroy TM’s monopoly of broadband services!

Comments
3 Responses to “Malaysia’s Telecommunication Problems”
  1. pochp says:

    Five is not enough? I’m surprised.
    In Philippines, we have only 3 major players.
    As you said, monopoly is the problem.
    And our monopoly problem is power supply so that is a bigger problem don’t you think?

  2. jamesesz says:

    Oh my! But Malaysia has a monopoly on power 2….How is your internet connection? OK?

  3. pochp says:

    The broadband service is good but it’s overpricing me by 30%!
    I might get into a fight over this soon because I’m not paying the
    30% anymore.

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