Deadline near for telcos to present cheaper packages

Only 2 companies have complied to the MSAP to review their Internet prices, says minister

By DASHVEENJIT KAUR / Pic By ISMAIL CHE RUS

THE government will take action against telecommunication companies (telcos) that fail to present new Internet packages to the ministry by the end of this month, as stipulated in the implementation of the Mandatory Standard on Access Pricing (MSAP).

Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo (picture) said the initial deadline, initially set for July 31, was deferred to Aug 31, following requests from broadband providers.

“To date, only two companies have complied to the MSAP to review their Internet prices, and we have yet to receive from others,” Gobind told reporters after officiating the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity (APT) meeting in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

The two companies that complied are Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) and Maxis Bhd, that have also begun reducing their Internet packages pricing in stages.

The reviewed lower-priced packages, which are expected to be rolled out gradually by the end of the year, will see broadband users enjoy a 25% price reduction.

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) had stipulated an extended deadline for Internet service providers to complete all access agreements based on the new MSAP prices.

The access agreement has to be compliant with MCMC’s MSAP.

The MSAP has also set the ceiling wholesale prices that can be charged by service providers for the facilities and services used by retail telco players.

The move was slated for enforcement on Jan 1, 2018, but was placed on hold after an earlier appeal by TM to revise some of the pricing components.

Gobind said since the telcos have to consider all the advantages commercially, he welcomes discussions with companies to come up with best-fitted solutions.

He said he will study all the packages that have been proposed by the companies after the stipulated deadline.

“However, if there is any telco that refuse to comply with the MSAP, action will be taken according to the law.

“We will not entertain any non-compliance, and I am serious about this,” he said adding that steps have to be taken for changes to occur as planned by the newly-elected government.

In his welcome speech at the APT meeting, Gobind said the government has targeted to achieve broadband coverage reach to 95% of populated areas by 2020.

“By the end of this year, our target is to reach 94.5% of populated areas and as of the end of July, we were at approximately 94.4%.

“To achieve the remaining 0.5% population coverage by the end of 2020 may not sound difficult but to those of us who have been in this industry for a while, we all know that it is the last few percent which will be the most expensive to reach,” he said.

Gobind said rural Malaysia has a challenging topographical makeup that would also hinder the continuous Internet connectivity area penetration goal.

“That is why the last mile connectivity is our goal. It makes up to the last few percentage of our coverage target. Hence the replacement of the Nationwide Fiberisation Plan with the National Connectivity Plan,” Gobind said.