Former Cabinet Minister Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz hit the nail on the head when she advised the new Minister for Communications and Multimedia, Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak to improve Internet services instead of shooting himself in the foot by saying Malaysians prefer slower Internet.
She said: “That is embarrassing if the world has the perception that most Malaysians prefer the slower option, and that the government is happy with that!”
Let us see whether Salleh could make amends for his howler that 71 percent of Malaysian Internet users preferred the slower Streamyx broadband package that offered speeds of between 384 kilobyte per second (Kbps) to 1 megabyte per second (Mbps) because Malaysians could not afford faster Internet plans that were more expensive.
There are no countries in the world which would prefer slower Internet unless it is peopled by cretins and idiots.
Let me refer to some of the points raised in Salleh’s two blog posts.
The Minister should refer to the Internet Users Survey 2014 report uploaded to MCMC website on 2 September 2015 which quoted 71.2% of respondent as saying that their mobile Internet is “sometimes good, sometimes bad” which means it is unreliable.
When Internet service is not reliable at the time when users need it, it is as good as rubbish. The report published by MCMC also states that 7.4% of home Internet users experience “mostly bad” quality of service.
Internet service which is unreliable causes slow Internet experience, wastes bandwidth and increases cost of usage in today’s limited data packages.
Why is there no focus on quality of service?
From Salleh’s two blog posts, let me inform Salleh that TM no longer offers Streamyx packages at the speed of 384kbps (not 386kbps as he said in Sept 29 post) and 512kbps. The minimum speed package available is 1Mbps for Streamyx as advertised on TM’s website. (https://www.tm.com.my/Home/Broadband/Streamyx/Pages/Home.aspx)
TM has removed the lowest and second lowest priced Streamyx packages at RM60/month (384kbps) and RM90/month (512kbps) from the market and left the 1Mbps package priced at RM116.60/month. TM has made it twice as expensive to have wired connection at home for entry level package. Why had the MCMC and the Ministry of Communications allowed such fleecing of the public?
TM’s pricing on Streamyx packages has virtually not changed since it’s introduction except for slight adjustment for 2Mbps and 4Mbps packages when Unifi was introduced. This is not the way to promote affordability.
The following are the pricing and speed of TM’s packages:
Table 1 – Selected TM packages
|Package / Tech||Customer Type||Speed (download)||RM / month|
|Streamyx / ADSL||Home||384kbps*||60.00|
|Streamyx / ADSL||Home||512kbps*||90.00|
|Streamyx / ADSL||Home||1Mbps||116.60|
|Unifi / FTTx||Home||5Mbps||157.94|
|Unifi / FTTx||Home||10mbps||210.94|
|Unifi / FTTx||Home||20Mbps||264.94|
|Unifi / FTTx||Business||30Mbps||Price not listed|
|Unifi / FTTx||Business||50mbps||Price not listed|
|Unifi / FTTx||Business||100Mbps||Price not listed|
*Package no longer available for new subscription
Singapore and Thailand have the following packages (not exhaustive) in Table 2 (Singapore) and Table 3 (Thailand).
Table 2 – Home (wired) Internet Packages in Singapore
|Singapore Telco||Lowest speed package available||SG$/month|
|M1||100Mbps (12 mnth contract)||39.00|
|M1||200Mbps (24 mnth contract)*||29.00|
|Starhub||200Mbps (fibre) / 100Mbps (cable)||39.90|
Table 3 – Home (wired) Internet Packages in Thailand
|Thai Telco||Lowest Speed Package Available||Baht/month||RM/month|
A quick survey of packages available in Thailand – 18Mbps for 450 Baht/month (RM55) by CS loxinfo, 3BB offering 10Mbps at 590 Baht/month (RM72) and AIS fibre 30Mbps for only 790 Baht/month (RM97) – show all these packages are cheaper than TM’s 1Mbps Streamyx package at RM116.60/month and yet the Thai packages offer ten to thirty times the speed.
According to Internet Users Survey 2014, over 50% of Internet users spend more than RM50/month on Internet fees. If the packages in Thailand were available in Malaysia, over 50% of current Internet users will enjoy Internet at the speed of at least 18Mbps.
In the case of Singapore, the lowest Internet speed package for home appears to be 100Mbps at SG$39.00/month (RM122 – exchange rate of SG$1 = RM3.12884) which is just RM5.40 more than Streamyx’s 1Mbps package by TM.
If Salleh could do this for Malaysia, we will be getting 100 times the speed at about the same price as Streamyx’s 1Mbps package. Also just for Salleh’s information one can get 1Gbps at SG$49.90/month in Singapore.
Salleh had said, “It is estimated that if Britain wants to improve the communications infrastructure it would need to spend about RM200bil.
An Internet search shows UK “has invested over £1.7billion (RM11.524 billion) to extend superfast coverage (download speeds of 24Mbps and above) to 95% premises in the UK by the end of 2017.”
Malaysia has spent RM11.3billion on HSBB project and a further RM3.4 billion for HSBB2 project or a grand total of RM14.7 billion as compared to Britain’s RM11.524 billion (current exchange rate: £1= RM6.77885 ), a cool RM3.176 billion more than Britain.
Yet, UK’s average speed is 11.77Mbps vs Malaysia’s 5.04Mbps as at Q2 of 2015 according to Akamai’s State of the Internet (Soti) report.
Britain is spending less and ensuring near universal coverage of superfast broadband while Malaysia is thinking of 95% Internet access by 2020. Britain by spending RM3.176 billion less than Malaysia is targeting 95% coverage of superfast Internet by end of 2017. Malaysia is spending more but not getting bang for the buck!
All in all, we are outspending Britain on broadband initiative while achieving rather modest targets in a longer term!
Focus on coverage is an important issue as I have highlighted in my budget 2010 speech and I had even proposed free universal broadband access for all Malaysians back in October 2009. (Ref: http://blog.limkitsiang.com/2009/10/30/broadband-penetration-vs-broadband-quality-vs-hsbb/ ).
Let us look back to Malaysia’s Internet toddler years of 1997-1998. In 1998, Malaysia’s Internet penetration was ahead of Brunei (6.3%) and on par with South Korea at 6.8% (refer to Table 4).
A snapshot of the situation seven years later puts Malaysia (42.3%) with relatively big lead over Brunei (29.7%). However, South Korea has pulled away leaving a big gap of 30.4% between us. In 2014, the data by World Bank shows that South Korea stands at 84.3%, Brunei 68.8% and Malaysia at 67.5%.
The sad story on Malaysia’s Internet coverage does not end there. Countries that started later than Malaysia is catching up fast – like countries China, Vietnam and Thailand which even have higher average Internet speed than Malaysia.
Table 4 – Internet users (per 100 people) according to Country