In rush towards world class digital infrastructure, digital gap must be addressed
By Karamjit Singh February 2, 2017
- GSMA’s Mobile Connectivity Index ranks Malaysia as one of the “Fast Transitioners”
- In this digital age, the digital divide is not just a social/political issue but an economic one
THE internet has become into one of the most influential catalysts for social and economic development of our time.
As key enablers for the spread and access to the internet, mobile networks have become a key anchor for the rapid digitisation being experienced by businesses and consumers.
As such, there is always an interest among policy makers to gauge how well their country stacks up against others because that gives them a competitive edge.
According to Mohd Ali Hanafiah (pic, right), chief officer, communication, digital services and standards sector, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) while the commission does look at some international benchmarks and reports to gauge how the country’s digital infrastructure stacks up, what’s important is that, when taken as whole, Malaysia is recognised as an emerging and developing country where the next stage would be the category of advanced country.
“We have continuously put efforts and taken the necessary strategy to uplift Malaysia into the advanced category. For instance, the deployment of high speed broadband infrastructure through fibre optic networks for fixed broadband and LTE technology for mobile broadband are among the strategies adopted to achieve world class broadband infrastructure,” he says.
The latest report issued that helps policy makers, the industry itself and citizens measure how they stack up was released last June by the GSMA, which represents nearly 800 mobile operators globally.
Consistent with Ali’s contention about how Malaysia is seen in such benchmarks, the GSMA’s Mobile Connectivity Index, using data from 2014, ranks Malaysia in a group of 20 countries that are seen as “Fast Transitioners”, though Malaysia ranks low in some of the categories measured. For instance, it scored 53.11 (over 100) for its overall infrastructure while its network performance score was 39.69 as compared to 36 for Thailand and 83 for Singapore.
At the same time, Malaysia also touts it coverage for cellular hitting 94% of population coverage with 3G reaching 90% population coverage and LTE service at 64% population coverage.
On the fixed side, there are currently 1.5 million high speed broadband ports deployed through the High Speed Broadband (HSBB). The infrastructure is currently being expanded through the implementation of Phase 2 which covers capital cities and major towns. In addition, the fixed broadband infrastructure at identified sub urban areas will be upgraded to be able to provide speeds up to 20Mbps under the Sub Urban Broadband (SUBB) initiative.
In addition, MCMC is working together with a service provider to build a new domestic submarine cable system called Sistem Kabel Rakyat 1Malaysia (SKR1M) which will connect Sabah and Sarawak with Peninsular Malaysia. The initial capacity will be 4Tbps and this will able to improve the broadband connectivity between Sabah and Sarawak with Peninsular Malaysia.
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