Making Internet faster and cheaper

Gobind is making the national agenda of high-speed Internet across every nook and cranny of the country a priority


The new government has made cheaper and faster Internet as one of the priorities since taking over the administration of the country about 11 months ago.

And it was the Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo (picture) who had somewhat rattled the industry and service providers as the government pushed for the “double the speed, half the price” agenda.

Malaysians who have been bearing the “slow” Internet access have welcomed the move.

But industry players faced lower revenues and higher capital expenditure to boost data transfer speed especially for copper wired connectivity.

For one, Gobind did not waiver despite facing the entire industry which generated billions in revenue but had never been scrutinised to the smallest kilobyte of transfer speed.

The 45-year-old minister, who is the son of famous politician Karpal Singh, had stood his ground.

And he is making the national agenda of high-speed Internet across every nook and cranny of the country a priority, evaluating new technologies and to bring Malaysia to levels of developed nations.

“We are open to using whatever infrastructure available to drive Internet penetration in rural areas throughout the country.

“We are even exploring the use of satellites, running fibre along sewerage pipes and even possibly opening access to existing poles that carry wires to homes,” he said in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

But he admitted there are still a lot of work to be done in terms of the infrastructure.

He said the government is looking at ways to provide the infrastructure which is faster and cheaper for the public, given that many areas have not been wired up for Internet.

He gave the example of areas surrounded by terrains where the government is considering “Loon technology” where giant solar-powered balloons will fly around and provide Internet access to remote areas.

“Proposals have been put forward involving the Loon technology. These are parts and parcels of the National Fiberisation and Connectivity Plan (NFCP),” he said.

The NFCP goal is to provide a robust, pervasive, high quality and affordable digital connectivity for the people, and subsequently aide in the progress of the nation.

It targets entry-level fixed broadband package at 1% of gross national income (GNI) by 2020; gigabits availability in selected industrial areas by 2020 and to all state capitals by 2023; 100% availability for premises in state capitals and selected high impact areas with a minimum speed of 500Mbps by 2021 and 20% availability for premises in suburban and rural areas with up to 500Mbps by 2022.

The framework also targets fibre network to pass 70% of schools, hospitals, libraries, police stat ions and post off ices by 2022, average speeds of 30Mbps in 98% of populated areas by 2023 and improve mobile coverage along Pan Borneo Highway upon completion.

The minister is also proposing for Internet connectivity to be listed and considered as utilities on par with water and electricity supply.

“I am in the process of proposing to the government to tailor a policy in which Internet connectivity will be listed as a utility which means that Internet will be given the same emphasis just like water and electricity.

“We need to understand that it is as essential as water and electricity. Someday it will become something that we will require daily,” he said, adding that such proactive measures are important for the nation.

Gobind said the proposal would also make Internet connectivity a requirement in residential or office building developments.

“I have already discussed with the housing and local government minister during which we have proposed for the need to ensure that all buildings in new development projects, be it residential or offices, be equipped with connectivity facilities.

“Eventually in the future, we will not see any building without Internet connectivity and people have to meet with contractors to set fibre optic cables, which take time and is costly.

“This is also among the objectives set by my ministry,” Gobind said.

On the possibility of bringing foreign telcos into the already crowded local sector, Gobind said there are already enough local players in the sector.

“We do not intend to bring in any foreign telco players given that there are enough providers for now,” he said.