KUALA LUMPUR: With most Malaysians now working from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic and extended movement control order (MCO) until April 14, there has also been an increase in complaints of slow internet.
Users have been voicing out their frustration in social media platforms. Whether it be students unable to finish their assignments or employees not being able to connect with their colleagues through online video conferencing tools such as Skype or Zoom.
A check by Bernama on twitter found that these complaints were not directed to one specific player but rather all telco players alike, which bodes the questions, do telco companies provide enough bandwidth capacity to cater to the surge in people working from home?
According to a source in the telco industry, yes, telco companies do provide sufficient bandwidth capacity.
Physical Connectivity To Household Unable To Accommodate Surge In Capacity
That said, bandwidth capacity is normally apportioned more for commercial purposes rather than households because consumer demand was lower previously as most people were at work, prior to the MCO.
As such, capacity used to be apportioned to the demands of commercial enterprises. It is on weekends that capacity is directed to households.
However, with the MCO, the majority population is now at home and telcos have had to ‘balance’ traffic allocation to homes.
"The capacity allocation from telcos is not an issue. It is the physical connectivity or ‘pipes’ to a household that may not be able to accommodate the surge in capacity - that is when bottlenecks could occur.
"Just imagine these pipes like drains. For big buildings (enterprises), they have massive pipes to accommodate the greater inflow of water. For households, the pipes are smaller. Hence, even when more water starts flowing, it would still be at smaller pipes as opposed to bigger pipes of enterprises, ” he told Bernama.
When asked whether the cause of these buffers and congested lines was due to shared 5G/4G data capacity to resellers, he said: "Not really. It goes back to physical connectivity to households.”
Telcos Can Increase Bandwidth Capacity As And When Needed
He said while telcos are able to increase capacity bandwidth as and when needed, this is not the cause of slow internet experienced by users at home, rather, it is the shift in demand that is happening from commercial enterprises to homes, which tend to have smaller ‘pipes’.
The source said since the MCO, all major telcos have been reinforcing monitoring systems and strengthening their remediation teams. They are on call 24 hours a day to address any issue that may arise from households.
"Other than that, during the MCO period, telcos are also seeing consumers upgrading their internet packages and similarly, telcos are upgrading physical residential connectivity so that there is improved speed to households.
"For example, there may just had been one port for a certain residential neighbourhood. Telcos are upgrading to two ports so that the increased internet demand from households are addressed, ” he said.
The country’s main connectivity provider, Telekom Malaysia (TM), in a statement to Bernama, said that it remained committed to making its network always on and available to its customers throughout this Movement Control Order (MCO) period to ensure that Malaysians could stay connected with their family, friends and loved ones wherever they are via TM’s services while exercising social distancing, in line with the guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health.
In the meantime, TM said with currently limited movement allowed, should customers require technical support for their unifi service or help with their accounts, it encouraged customers to fully utilise TM’s digital customer service channels which would limit the need for physical interactions and reduce risk.
"These channels include the customer service portal on unifi’s website, myunifi app, and social media platforms at Facebook @weareunifi and Twitter @helpmeunifi, where customers can manage their accounts, perform simple troubleshooting, and even live chat with unifi service advisors who are on standby to provide necessary guidance or support.
"TM hopes that this effort will help its customers to stay at home, stay connected, stay safe and stay healthy. TM will continually monitor for developments on the ongoing situation and adapt its services to help customers, whenever needed, ” it added.
MCO Period Sees Highest Internet Traffic Peak
Malaysia Internet Exchange (MyIX), an association under Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), has recorded the highest internet traffic peak of 532 gigabytes per second (Gbps) compared to 2019’s highest traffic peak record of 500 Gbps since the Movement Control Order was enforced on March 18.
The increase in demand from households also stems from an increase in viewership of audio-video (AV) mediums such as YouTube, coupled with broadcast services such as Astro and Netflix.
Networks do feel the impact of such demand from AV sources, hence household consumers may feel slowness in their home. That said, the authorities have advised movie streaming mediums to throttle down so as not to place too much strain on networks.
"On a final note, MyIX should be commended for working round-the-clock to ensure continued uninterrupted internet connectivity during the MCO period.
"Since most internet service providers (ISPs) and content distribution networks (CDNs) are directly peered with MyIX with sufficient capacity, MyIX has reassured the public should not be experiencing any degradation of internet connectivity, ” the telco source added. - Bernama