PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) will be given more clout to force fixed-line telephone service providers to open up connections to third-party broadband service providers.
Energy, Water and Communications Minister Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik said he was pushing for the MCMC to have stronger regulatory powers next year which would allow it to force fixed-line telephone service providers to open up the “local loop” to third-party broadband service providers.
Local loop, also known as the “last-mile connection,” is an industry term that refers to the telephone line running from a telephone exchange to a customer's premises.
Most of the local loop in the country is owned by Telekom Malaysia Bhd.
These third parties would be able to use the local loop to provide additional and more competitive services, like broadband Internet access services, Dr Lim said after launching Jaring's wireless broadband services yesterday.
“While Malaysia is among the first countries in the region to advocate the adoption of information and communications technology, we're now lagging behind,” he said.
Until Jaring launched its service, Telekom Malaysia was the only broadband service provider for the local consumer market.
Telekom Malaysia has about 270,000 broadband subscribers. Jaring has targeted 100,000 subscribers for its wireless broadband service by the end of next year (see In.Tech next Tuesday).
Dr Lim wanted MCMC to have more powers to force cellular service operators to provide coverage nationwide.
He said these companies had not fulfilled the ministry's call for them to cover all the “blind spots” – areas where service is easily disrupted or completely unavailable – in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Cyberjaya by the end of October.
The Government has also asked cellular operators to cover all blind spots nationwide by the end of next year.
“I've already spoken to state governments about building telecommunication towers and renting (out) space on them to various wireless communications service providers,” Dr Lim said.
Once this was done, “MCMC will force cellular operators to use them as well,” he added.
Hitting out at the local telecommunications industry for failing to meet targets set out by the Government, Dr Lim said MCMC would be given more teeth to push them into meeting their obligations.
“In the early days of our telecommunications liberalisation, the MCMC was relatively soft on the telcos to give them a chance to grow,” Dr Lim said.
“But now that they've grown big, strong and profitable, the country still has not benefited, so it's time for us to get tough,” he added.