PETALING JAYA: Most Malaysians choose to pay less for slower internet speeds instead of spending more on fast connections, said Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak (pic).
"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," said Salleh in a blog post on Monday night refuting a blog post by Lim.
Lim had said that 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," Lim said.
Refuting this, Salleh said that Lim's complaints were similar to those of internet users in the United Kingdom, 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 RM200bil.
"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 railways," he said.
Salleh pointed out that even though higher broadband speeds are available, the majority of customers will subscribe to the cheaper and thus slower packages.
"In Singapore and Thailand 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," said Salleh.
He pointed out that Malaysians could choose a 20 Mbps package if they wanted higher speed internet services.
"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 where money is not a problem," said Salleh.
He added that all Lim spoke about in his blog post was connection speed.
"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," said Salleh.