Monday, September 28, 2015

Internet speed in Malaysia: What Lim Kit Siang may not be aware of

Salleh Said Keruak

“Salleh appeared to be only interested in his blog and Facebook, busy with his new toy and cabinet assignment to be Najib’s chief propagandist to fight the prime minister’s political survival battle. One would have expected Salleh to be very occupied with blueprints, announcements, statements or even blogs as to how Malaysia is to return to the front-line of information technology powers. But Salleh has been conspicuously unconcerned about Malaysia’s poor Internet infrastructure,” said Lim Kit Siang yesterday.

Actually, this is the same complaint in the UK, which is ranked as the 16th in Europe in terms of Internet speed. It is estimated that if Britain wants to improve the communications infrastructure it would need to spend about RM200 billion. The question being asked in the UK is whether Internet users are prepared to foot his bill on top of the RM1,400 billion they need to pay for the other infrastructure like energy, roads and railway.

Basically Lim Kit Siang is grumbling about the slow Internet speed in Malaysia. Actually there are a wide range of Internet speeds that Malaysians can choose from but about 71% of Malaysian Internet users prefer the slower Streamyx broadband package that offers speeds of between 384 Kbps to 1 Mbps.

Even though higher broadband speeds are available, the majority of customers will subscribe to the cheaper and thus slower packages. In Singapore, Thailand, etc., the minimum speeds range from 4-5 Mbps. In Malaysia it is only 384 Kbps.

Of course we can also do this for Malaysia. We can increase the minimum Internet speed to, say, 5 Mbps and force Malaysians to buy this higher-speed package. But that would mean the cost would be higher as well and Internet usage will be available to only those who can afford to pay the higher cost.

In Malaysia, you can even choose the 20 Mbps package if you want higher speed Internet service. However, most Malaysians would not opt for this and would still prefer the cheaper and slower speed Internet. So in the end it all boils down to affordability and Malaysia offers affordable Internet to those who want it and higher speed Internet to those who money is not a problem.

Lim Kit Siang just talks about speed. Malaysia’s focus is speed, coverage and affordability. We want to ensure that by 2020 at least 95% of Malaysians will have access to the Internet. And we also want to ensure that at least 50% of urban areas and 20% of rural areas have broadband speeds of 100 Mbps.

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