Despite claims by minister and MCMC, TM’s own numbers show otherwise
Taskforce for AEC set up, Pikom in MoU with Taiwanese industry association
THE National ICT Association of Malaysia (Pikom) became just the latest to question a minister’s assertion that Malaysians ‘prefer’ slower broadband speeds.
And whatever government officials may say, the country's broadband infrastructure plays an integral role in attracting foreign investments, said Pikom chairman Cheah Kok Hoong (pic above).
“Today, I received news that another company has set up a 208,000 sq ft data centre in Singapore.
“This is not the first time a company has set up a data centre in Singapore – many companies, including multinational companies, have chosen Singapore to set up data centres,” he said.
“Real estate and human resources are not cheap in Singapore, so why are these multinational companies setting up data centres there and not in Malaysia? There must be a reason,” he told a media briefing in Petaling Jaya yesterday (Oct 7).
Cheah argued that the island-republic’s robust broadband infrastructure was a key factor, although he conceded that other factors played a role in creating an ecosystem that attracted such investments.
“But that’s why we, as a country, need to buck up and change,” he said.
Last week, Malaysia’s Communications and Multimedia Minister Dr Salleh Said Keruak said that most Malaysians chose to pay less for slower Internet speeds instead of spending more on faster connections.
After a public uproar, industry regulator the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) issued a statement to back the minister, saying that 71% of customers on Telekom Malaysia Bhd’s Streamyx service subscribed to packages with speeds of 1Mbps or below.
Telekom Malaysia (TM), a government-linked company, is the dominant telecommunications provider in the country, and even rival Internet service providers have to ride on a large portion of its networks.
READ ALSO: Malaysians prefer slow broadband? There’s no choice!
“Policy-makers will always have their views but at the end of the day, we are the users and we know what we want,” said Cheah.
TM’s own numbers
Although the take-up rate of the slower-than-1Mbps plans by Streamyx customers can be seen as a sign that Malaysians “prefer” slower broadband speeds, what the minister did not highlight was that the demand for faster Internet speeds is outpacing the demand for slower speed broadband services, despite the lower cost of the latter.
A look at TM’s second quarter results show that customers of its UniFi high-speed broadband service have increased by 16.2% to 782,000 versus 673,000 a year ago.
At the same time, its Streamyx customer base has declined by 4.5% to 1.51 million from 1.58 million a year ago.
It should be noted that its fixed-line customers (excluding its UniFi customer base) have declined by 5.1% to 3.46 million versus 3.65 million a year ago.
In May, Digital News Asia did an analysis on the state of Malaysia’s broadband prices, looking at the packages offered by local telcos and comparing it with what players in other countries in the region are offering.
READ ALSO: How affordable are Malaysia’s ‘affordable’ broadband packages?
Our report highlighted that a 20Mbps package by a Malaysian telco is priced at RM198 (US$47) a month, while a 20Mbps package in Thailand is offered at THB799 (US$22). In Singapore, a speedy 200Mbps package is priced at only S$49 (US$35).
Pikom’s Cheah said that one item on the association’s ‘wishlist’ for the coming national Budget 2016 to be announced next week, would be initiatives to lower the cost of broadband packages and to increase speeds.
While comparing Malaysia’s Internet speeds with those of its neighbours may not be entirely fair to policy-makers, he said that it is something that needs to be seriously looked into.
Cheah noted that many of Pikom’s 1,000 member-companies are units of regional or global multinational groups.
“A lot of our members are regional companies, and when their principals from Japan, the United States or other countries come to visit them in Malaysia, they tend to compare us to Singapore,” he said.
MoU with Taiwan, Asean task force
Cheah was speaking to the media after Pikom and the Asian-Oceanian Computing Industry Organisation (Asocio) agreed to set up a dedicated Asocio Asean Economic Community Digital Taskforce (AADT) to address challenges and concerns arising from the implementation of the Asean Economic Community (AEC).
Currently, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam are founding members of the taskforce, with more member countries expected to join in the near future, he said.
“I’m confident that the taskforce will provide the much needed guidance and advice to ensure that the ICT industry is best positioned to navigate the challenges of the AEC’s implementation, while fully leveraging on the immense opportunities for ICT in an era of a single market based on the free movement of talent, goods, resources and services,” he added.
The briefing also followed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Pikom and its Taiwanese counterpart, Information Service Industry (Cisa), to pave the way for closer collaboration and cooperation between the two countries.
“The MoU will see both economies working closely together to facilitate knowledge sharing, transfer of technology, business matching as well as several bilateral inter-market ICT delegations and visits to tap the best practices and ideas of both nations,” Cheah said.
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