Broadband Penetration vs Broadband Quality vs HSBB

The Finance Minister said in the budget speech that the Government will expedite the implementation of HSBB at a total cost of RM11.3 billion, of which RM2.4 billion is from the Government and RM8.9 billion from Telekom Malaysia, and that a speed of 10Mbps will be provided in selected areas in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor by end-March 2010 while these services will be extended to other selected areas nationwide between 2010 and 2012.
He also said that Malaysia’s broadband penetration is currently at 25%, a rate that is far lower compared to Korea, Singapore, Japan and United States.

There is a contradiction here.

In simple terms, administration is spending RM2.4 billion to encourage Telekom Malaysia to spend RM8.9 billion for selected areas in KL and Selangor to be further extended to other selected areas nationwide.

The government policy in subsidizing HSBB is creating broadband desert in the rural area as its fiscal policy continues to favour the urban and high-income rakyat as shown by its tax cut for the top-earners.

To narrow the digital divide and to bring oasis to the broadband desert in Malaysia; I hereby propose the RM2.4 billion resources be channelled to provide minimum Broadband speed of 512 kbps to all Malaysians for free of charge. The RM2.4 billion govt grant should be matched ringgit to ringgit by Telekom Malaysia.

There’s nothing revolutionary in such a proposal. On 14 October 2009, Finland rocked the IT world with its announcement that “Starting next July, every person in Finland will have the right to a one-megabit broadband connection” With this announcement by the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications. Finland is the world’s first country to create laws guaranteeing broadband access.

Earlier on Finland had already decided to make a 100 Mbps broadband connection a legal right by the end of 2015. The new goal is an intermediary step for Finland.

CNN commented, “Finland is one of the most wired in the world…But the law is designed to bring the Web to rural areas, where geographic challenges have limited access until now.

Let me come to Broadband Penetration vs Broadband Quality. Broadband Penetration measurement is today’s literacy rate. The world’s leading economy have meanwhile moved on from Broadband Penetration measurement to Broadband Quality measurement.

Thirteen years ago Malaysia proclaimed the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) as “a gift to the world” and the centrepiece of the country’s strategic initiative to leapfrog the nation into the IT era to become one of the world IT powers.

Since then, MSC and Malaysia have faded away from the world radar screen as an international IT hotspot – and Malaysia’s unchecked plunge in IT international competitiveness in the past decade has been confirmed by another adverse global study, the 2009 Oxford/Cisco Global Broadband Quality Score.

This study of the global state of broadband quality put Malaysia 53rd out of 66 countries in terms of the quality and reach of its networks – understandably behind countries like Korea, Japan, Sweden, Denmark, United States but also trailing countries we should be leading like Turkey, Chile, China, Qatar, Brazil, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Cyprus, Costa Rica, Bahrain, Thailand, Tunisia, Mexico, Philippines and UAE.

Malaysia could not make it into the three top broadband categories of “Ready for tomorrow” (nine countries led by South Korea and Japan), “Comfortably enjoying today’s applications” (16 nations), “Meeting needs of today’s applications” (14 nations), but falls into the last category of “Below today’s applications threshold” (27 nations) and occupying the 17th position.

South Korea and Japan continue to dominate the league table in this second global study, largely due to their commitment to fast networks.
In South Korea, for instance, the government has promised universal speeds of up to 1Gbps by 2012.

Internationally, broadband quality has moved from one of penetration, i.e. who had broadband connection and who did not, to include broadband speed but Malaysia is till bogged down in the initial stage.

I have received an answer to my question to the Minister for Communications on the country’s international internet broadband capacity as Malaysian broadband users are not talking about 2Mbps – lucky if 512 or 256kbps without disruptions – in their daily experience with national broadband speed.

The Minister’s answer, that Malaysia’s cumulative total international internet bandwidth capacity is 112Gbps second as of June 2009, up from 64.1 Gbps in 2008, has given rise to more questions, viz:

  • Can the minister explain why the growing universal criticism to the broadband speed experienced by customers?

  • Is TM over selling its international Internet bandwidth to corporate clients, banks, government and other ISPs?

  • What is the true international Internet bandwidth per user in Malaysia currently?

  • [Speech7 in Parliament on 2010 Budget on 29.10.2009]

  1. #1 by limkamput on Friday, 30 October 2009 - 3:21 pm

    Sdr Lim, please allow me to post my comments on the recently announced NAP and the budget proposals here.

    What competitiveness and innovation? What the government does each budget is to squeeze the people more so that it can give more protection to the cronies and vested interest groups. Just a few examples:

    1. National Automobile Policy. This bl**dy stupid policy is nothing more than aiming at helping some asses to be billionaires. After such a long wait, the AP system is further extended to 2015. Tell you what; come 2015, they will extend it to 2020 to coincide with the blind vision 2020. Anybody wants to wager with me (i.e. provided BN is still in power then). PR, i wish you fellows will relentlessly apply pressure on this; I think the people will support you. Can’t you see they are treating us like kids, thinking we can be hoodwinked year after year while they grow rich beyond belief.

    2. Then what about the annual inspection for all cars that are more than 15 year old. Look, I will not exchange my 15 years old marque for a locally manufactured new car and yet they want to inspect my car yearly and later scrap it. How good can the inspection be? It is another layer of bureaucracy, another opportunity to solicit bribe. The durability and the quality of a car is not dependent on the number of years one owns it, you stupid government. Beh tahan already.

    3. Oh, one more thing, we can’t import used parts and components anymore. See the stupidity here. If my marque needs a windscreen or a tail-light, what is wrong with me importing the used parts and components from the original manufacturer? In what way it is unsafe and environmentally unfriendly? The original used parts are at least better than the new fake. Remember, we can’t even manufacture an automatic car window system here!

    4. Imagine credit cards are taxed when they are supposed to promote efficiency in the payment system. Imagine the cost saving because of credit cards. Now imagine what if most of us refuse to use the credit cards anymore – banks, merchants, hotel, and the government would all be jammed up. So why are we taxed when we have helped to attain cost saving and efficiency. Where is the “efficiency dividend” you stupid government?

    5. RPGT. Now the government want 5% of all property we own. We have taken years to own something. Now as we grow old and want to sell some of these assets, suddenly this do nothing government now wants 5% of whatever we have taken years to make. It is as if all these years we have not paid enough of other taxes for you asses to squander.

    6. I have not commented on all the wasteful and good for nothing expenditures incurred by the government yet. I think we have makan sh!t people advising government on economic policies and we have sh!t people running the government. I am really pissed.

  2. #2 by Bigjoe on Friday, 30 October 2009 - 3:26 pm

    I believe sir, you don’t get the main weakness of the HSBB scheme, it is NOT going to help increase the brodband penetration as hoped. Let assume the organic growth of broadband as is, should grow to about 35-40% by 2012. The HSBB scheme at best will increase broadband penetration up to 50% – most of those may be in high-speed but a number of them will not and many will never be in the forseeable future…

    That is the real lie abut HSBB, it does not have a huge impact on broadband penetration in the end.

    The problem with the scheme is
    1) that the rollout is paid by the govt first. Telekom idea is that it will rollout some fiber and switches in main areas and the govt pays it regardless of how many people actually signs up for the service. In other words, Telekom incentive is to roll it out to the area where it cost the least to rollout, i.e., coverage regardless of demand..

    2) Since signing up is not a key determinant, it will rollout to those that already have the best service already. This means that its incentive is to sign up those already on broadband..

    This is opposite to most subsidy system where the operators are paid based on actual demand i.e., signup regardless of location. In other words, the way the govt should have done is to pay Telekom more for rural areas than in urban areas and pay only when people sign up for it. That would have been the most efficient and the fairest.

    Not doing so is both unfair AND inefficient. Mark my word, come 2012, the same question will be ask why is broaband penetration in Singapore 100% while we are at 50% or maybe even less.

  3. #3 by badak on Friday, 30 October 2009 - 4:16 pm

    BN is openly cheating the rakyat, Yet Malaysians are keeping quiet. BN leaders are openly corrupted.. One good example is ISA BY WINNING THE BAGAN PINANG BY-ELECTION.

  4. #4 by yhsiew on Friday, 30 October 2009 - 7:31 pm

    The government policy in subsidizing HSBB is creating broadband desert in the rural area……

    The reason for creating broadband desert in the rural area is to ensure that rural people can only have access to government controlled media (the main stream media)

    Currently the bulk of people that support the government come from the rural area. If these people were given easy access to the alternative media (and get to know about the real situation in the country), there is a high chance that many of them will abandon their support for BN in the next general election. Surely the government does not want this to happen. That is why it tries hard to not give rural folks easy access to the Internet.

  5. #5 by vsp on Friday, 30 October 2009 - 8:52 pm

    The Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) is a real estate scam. In this age of the internet you don’t need to be confined to a locality in order to be a world-class entity. As long as you have a connection you can surf the net and do a lot of innovation as far as your imagination can take you. No wonder the MSC is a colossal flop when you have fossilized people taking charge.

  6. #6 by Same story, different day on Friday, 30 October 2009 - 11:13 pm

    Broadband price is a big factor which resulting a low broadband penetration rate in this country. Beside coverage issue, which most rural areas are not even serve by our almost monopoly TMnet, the cheapest streamyx package available is RM60 (included the fixed line phone). How many rural folks can afford such price tag when they have difficulties putting food on the table for the family. Many families survived on less than RM60 a week. May be RM60 is not a big deal for the city folks, but this package can get you only a crappy 314kbps. As comparison, broadband in USA cost only $35 a month for 6Mbps. Do not compare the exchange rate, but dollar to dollar with their salary factored in, broadband is relatively cheap in developed country. To get a decent speed, we have to pay more than RM100 a month, and the speed does not even match 6Mbps, and in today standard, this speed is considered low in Japan and South Korea.

  7. #7 by Onlooker Politics on Saturday, 31 October 2009 - 2:38 am

    Did Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TMB) so far own any communication satelite which enabled wide broadband coverage over the most areas of Malaysia, including the deep jungle where Orang Asli (the aborigine people) live?

    If TMB does not own a communication satelite, how is it going to provide internet broadband service to the far remote rural areas inside the deep jungle in order to improve the broadband penetration as well as the broadband quality? The satelite definitely permits much easier access over a larger coverage of communication areas! Does TMB have the satelite technology? If no, why doesn’t TMB buy the technology from Ananda Krishnan in order to prove that Malaysia boleh?

  8. #8 by monsterball on Saturday, 31 October 2009 - 5:27 am

    UMNO need badly to promote and advertise to win votes.
    Their plans are always for their political advantages.
    Space Age can wait..stone age needs to wake up…to vote for them.
    Space age and stone age so clear.
    Very rich rich and very poor also so clear.
    These clear contrast can only mean..the government is dictatorial and corrupt.
    What we waiting for?
    What are we talking about?

  9. #9 by OrangRojak on Saturday, 31 October 2009 - 1:14 pm

    Onlooker Politics – TM has been using satellite broadband for some time. I don’t know whose satellite:

    I know this seems like a conspiracy theory, and I’m half embarrassed to write it, but my local TM engineers tell me the cabinet at the end of my row of houses is already connected by fibre. The copper line to my house is almost perfect – I have my own test tools that confirm what the technicians tell me. What’s in the cabinet? Has TM really been replacing their concentrators (phone cables to network cables) with out-of-date equipment that forces them to provide less than 2Mbit/s broadband? I can’t help thinking that it would cost them several times more to keep buying antique concentrators than it would to buy new, much faster ones. It seems to me that all the equipment is already there for me to enjoy 100Mbit VDSL2.

    I remember long ago, when I was working in the UK software industry, of a story about IBM (I think) being caught offering an upgrade to a faster version of their operating software which was the same as the slower version, but with an artificial delay loop removed! Are TM waiting for a windfall before clicking on the button that says “OK stop pretending to need capital investment”? Is it well known what they are upgrading from?

  10. #10 by Mist on Sunday, 1 November 2009 - 10:49 pm

    Onlooker Politics :
    Did Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TMB) so far own any communication satelite which enabled wide broadband coverage over the most areas of Malaysia, including the deep jungle where Orang Asli (the aborigine people) live?
    If TMB does not own a communication satelite, how is it going to provide internet broadband service to the far remote rural areas inside the deep jungle in order to improve the broadband penetration as well as the broadband quality? The satelite definitely permits much easier access over a larger coverage of communication areas! Does TMB have the satelite technology? If no, why doesn’t TMB buy the technology from Ananda Krishnan in order to prove that Malaysia boleh?

    Satellite broadband requires a phone line for upload. Download is from satellite but upload is via the phoneline. With all the telephone line theft in rural areas phone connection depend more on the grace of god.

    Why can’t they bury the cables ? Just wondering out loud.

  11. #11 by OrangRojak on Monday, 2 November 2009 - 10:21 am

    Uh? Duplicate comment detected? But there’s nothing there! No ‘awaiting moderation’, nothing! Have you been employing The Malaysian Insider’s javascript writer?

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