Internet access for all, vows Gobind


PETALING JAYA: The push for wider fixed broadband access will lead to more competition, lower broadband prices, higher speeds and better quality of services.

Minister of Communications and Multimedia Gobind Singh Deo has been a proponent in opening up the sector to competition, and his recent statement that Tenaga Nas­ional Bhd (TNB) could potentially enter the broadband space as an infrastructure player will see that come through and benefit rural Malaysia.

The key driver to lowering broadband packages is the up to 80% reduction in wholesale access pricing under the mandatory standard on access pricing, which has since been enforced.

But players have yet to hammer out agreements based on the new pricing with Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) to allow the prices of broadband services to be lowered and the speed increased.

Those in the fixed broadband game are TM, Time dotCom Bhd and Maxis Bhd.

Gobind wants other players to also offer fast fixed broadband access to a wider population because he feels that “Internet access is a right of every citizen”.

He added that at this point, there are different problems in different areas and services.

“But if we can raise the bar in speed by even 30mbps or 100mbps and have packages below RM100 per month, that will be a good start. We really have to look at packages below RM100 per month,’’ he said.

On its own, TM has offered its new entry-level broadband-only plan at RM79 per month. It is exclusive for the bottom 40% (B40) income group with a household monthly income of below RM4,500.

Only 9% of the 7.6 million households in the country are connected with fast broadband and according to the June 2018 report, the World Bank Malaysia’s Economic Monitor access to fixed broadband services is a pre-requisite for the widespread adoption of innovative technologies.

This is especially so for more advanced applications such as data analytics, the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence, not just by businesses but also to support improved public service delivery and growing demand of households.

A serious lack of competition has been cited as the reason why prices are high and speed low for broadband in Malaysia.

By offering more access to networks, Gobind wants more players to help wire up the country as fibre optics provide stability and can fuel the digital economy.

“A lot of people do not know what opportunities exists if you use the Internet to market your products. E-commerce is a big area of development and for that, we need fast fixed broadband in place,’’ he said.

He said he was pleased that after he pushed for broadband prices to be reduced by 25% by year end, he has seen a drop in prices.

“That means it can be done,” he added.