Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The focus of our Internet development in Malaysia

Salleh Said Keruak

Lim Kit Siang seems to have taken offense with my response yesterday and is getting very personal when he said, “Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak has beaten all Ministers to make the most stupid Ministerial statement, not only poorly researched but highlighted total ignorance of his Ministerial responsibility apart from being the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s Chief Blogger.”

Maybe he was not too happy with my reply when I said, “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.”

Note the part where I said, “Malaysia’s focus is speed, coverage and affordability.” That means cost (affordability) is one point that I am looking at, which is also the point that Lim Kit Siang is talking about. So we are on the same page here.

In Malaysia, our Internet penetration is 67% of the population. We are still below South Korea (92%), Brunei (75%), Japan (86%), Singapore (80%), and Taiwan (80%). However, we are definitely ahead of the rest of Asia.

The average Internet penetration for the whole of Asia is only 38.8% and 73.5% for the whole of Europe. North America is, of course, ahead of the rest of the world at 87.9%. As I said yesterday, we are planning to give 95% of Malaysians Internet service by 2020, which is only five years from now, and MCMC plans to spend about RM9 billion by 2020 to achieve this.

Lim Kit Siang said, “…the issue is that high Internet speeds in Malaysia are too costly and unaffordable when compared to other countries when the Minister’s task is to make them affordable and popular.”

Yes, that too has been taken into consideration and I did not dispute that point in my reply to Lim Kit Siang. What must also be taken into consideration, which Akamai did not, is that the entry-level package for fixed broadband offered by Telekom Malaysia starts at 386 kbps. Therefore, due to the high number of subscribers for these entry-level packages (71%), this had the effect of pulling down the average speeds measured by Akamai.

For example, 87% of HSBB subscribers are for the lowest speed 5 Mbps package and there are hardly any takers for the higher speed packages of 30 and 50 Mbps. So while I do not disagree with what Lim Kit Siang or Akamai said, we need to also take into consideration how the average speed of the Internet is calculated. When 71% of the users are in the entry-level 386 kbps category, then the overall average would be low.

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