GOOD Internet connectivity is of paramount importance as we move towards the work from home culture.
Not only does it connect us to the rest of the world, it also plays an increasingly significant role in helping us with our daily tasks.
Yet over the past few months, there seem to be various issues with Internet connectivity, even in urban areas.
Connecting to the Internet in the middle of Johor Baru itself can be challenging at times and this to me is bizarre, especially now that we rely on cashless transaction not just at convenience stores but also at many government agencies.
As a journalist, I need the Internet to do my job. Journalists cannot be everywhere all the time and the Internet gives us insight into the situation on the ground, especially when we are not able to be physically present at the site.
We also depend on our phones to call sources as well as interview people and it is frustrating to be met with dead silence and “Hello, can you hear me”, time and again due to poor connectivity.
I recently spent a few days in my parents’ house in Pontian, a mere 50km from Johor Baru but was extremely disappointed with the poor Internet connection.
I had missed text messages and important phone calls due to the poor connectivity and resorted to turning the phone on and off hoping it would somehow help. It didn’t.
I have also spoken to parents who heaved a sigh of relief now that students can return to school as they said the poor Internet connectivity affected their children’s learning during the movement control order.
This is definitely not just a problem in Johor, it is a nationwide issue that seems far worse in rural areas.
During a visit to my mother’s village in Tamparuli, Sabah, last year, I had to climb up the hill every day just to check whether I had any emails, messages or missed calls that I needed to reply to.
I wonder how schoolchildren living there adapted to online learning considering I had to go through such lengths just to get basic Internet connection.
As it turned out, online learning did not work for most of them so they relied on worksheets provided by their teachers.
It is such a shame that they were left behind due to poor Internet connectivity.
While the Federal Government has given its commitment to improve Internet connection in rural areas, we have yet to see visible improvements.
Over the past few weeks, the Johor government has been working hard to improve public facilities and infrastructure.
Potholes are being fixed, escalators repaired, rivers cleaned and hospitals improved.
Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi recently announced that the Federal Government had approved six major infrastructure works totalling RM1.56bil to improve road connectivity.
“The state is also set to be a pioneer in performance based road concession contracts having signed deals estimated at RM601mil,” he said via a Facebook post.
While these are all great improvements, especially as it involves not just Johor Baru but also other districts such as Kota Tinggi, Muar, Tangkak, Segamat and Batu Pahat, the Internet connectivity problem still remains.
If we are to become a first-class state and be on par with our neighbour Singapore, poor Internet connection is one of the things we must address.
This is not just about looking good in the eyes of the world but an actual problem that needs to addressed urgently.