The Government may allow foreign players to offer broadband services in the country should the local operators fail to reach out to more users.
Energy, Water and Communications Minister Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik said although the Government had set a target for 5% to 6% of households to be connected to broadband by 2008, the percentage should actually be higher than that by then.
”We are considering several measures to increase the broadband penetration rate and they include opening up the industry to foreign players,” he told reporters yesterday after chairing a dialogue between his ministry and CEOs from the telecommunications and multimedia industry. The dialogue was organised by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission and held at its headquarters in Cyberjaya.
Lim said the Government was unhappy with the current low broadband penetration rate, which had hindered some of the development programmes outlined in the National Broadband Plan.
“Our target (of 5% to 6%) will remain just a figure if the existing operators do not play their roles,” he said, adding that there was no reason Malaysia could not achieve a high level of broadband usage as was the case in countries like South Korea, where 78% of households were connected to broadband Internet services.
He said the current penetration rate of just over 1% in Malaysia was not acceptable. “People in other countries have gone far ahead of us ? what’s wrong with us?” he asked.
Currently, Telekom Malaysia Bhd is the only broadband service provider in the country, using ADSL technology. The service is provided under its Streamyx brand. ADSL is the cheapest option so far, as it connects subscribers to the service through regular copper wire phone lines.
TIME Dotcom Bhd recently introduced wireless broadband Internet access, called Webbit, but the service is only available in limited areas in Petaling Jaya. There are other small broadband service providers that offer limited wireless Internet access using Wi-Fi technology.
Telekom chief executive officer Datuk Abdul Wahid Omar said at a seminar earlier this week that the expansion of ADSL connections in the country was hindered by the high cost of investment, especially to areas more than 6km from telephone exchanges. “There are currently no cheaper alternative to connect areas located more than 6km to 7km from an exchange,” he said.
He added that Telekom was in the process of introducing wireless broadband Internet access, and this service could reach areas that were not connected by land lines.