Don’t limit ‘Unity’ coverage

KUALA LUMPUR: The Broadband Unity Package introduced by the Communications and Digital Ministry should also be extended to those from the M40 group, says Malaysian Press Institute (MPI) chief executive officer Datuk Dr Chamil Wariya.

Calling it a good initiative to bridge the digital divide among Malaysians, he said the package should not only be limited to the B40 group, veterans, people with disabilities (OKU), and senior citizens.

The package, he said, was needed by the M40 as this would help reduce their cost of living, since the Internet is a much-needed utility.

“The Broadband Unity Package needs to be opened to all because broadband costs are still high compared to other countries in the region,” he told Bernama.

On Thursday, Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil announced the RM69 package that comes with unlimited data at broadband speeds as high as 30 Mbps which would be offered from March with a 24-month contract.

According to the ministry, this is 22% cheaper than that offered elsewhere with the same specifications at about RM89, which translates to a RM480 savings over the contract period.

The package would be offered with the cooperation of Telekom Malaysia, CelcomDigi, Maxis, U Mobile, YTL, TIME, and Astro.

Chamil said the two-year contract should also be made more flexible, with subscribers given the option to terminate the contract if they could not afford it.

He said subscribers might initially be able to afford the package but might run into problems later.

“Subscribers should be given the privilege and freedom to terminate the contract without incurring any penalty,” he added.

Chamil also suggested the price of the package be lowered to RM50 per month.

National Tech Association of Malaysia (Pikom) chairman Ong Chin Seong said various studies had shown that the average Internet cost in Malaysia was still higher than some of its regional peers.

“The sweet spot for entry-level Internet connectivity at RM50 would be a boon for most Malaysians,” he added.

Universiti Sains Malaysia School of Social Sciences senior lecturer Dr Azmil Mohd Tayeb said RM50 per month would be fairer for the targeted groups.

The government, he said, should also complement the cheaper broadband rate with some form of targeted subsidy, such as for B40 families with schoolgoing children.

“The government can roll out with RM69 for now and gauge the response of target groups.

“If the response is tepid, then it can lower the rate to RM50 or complement the initial rate with a targeted subsidy.

“Government and service providers also need to ramp up efforts to develop and expand coverage in rural areas, including Sabah and Sarawak, so more people can take advantage of this programme,” said Azmil.

Malaysian Association for the Blind chief executive officer Datuk George Thomas said the package was a great initiative to woo users.

“This is the way forward – leaving no one out,” he added.

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