Digital network redesigned to meet higher demand amid MCO


THE country’s digital network has been redesigned to cater to new demands from Internet and mobile data users during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period, said the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).

Its chairman Dr Fadhlullah Suhaimi Abdul Malek (picture) said to date, the network has been stabilised since the majority of people are working from home and students are participating in home-based learning sessions.

“We did a survey for roughly about two months after MCO 1.0 started in March 2020, and it showed an increase in Internet traffic usage by more than 30%.

“That resulted in MCMC coordinating the National Digital Infrastructure Lab that gave birth to the (RM21 billion) National Digital Infrastructure Plan (Jendela) in August last year,” he told Bernama after appearing on Bernama TV’s The Nation programme, which was aired yesterday on the topic of “Home-based Teaching and Learning (PDPR): The Way Forward”.

Citing a report by Opensignal, Fadhlullah Suhaimi said the speeds of Internet for both fixed broadband and mobile network in the country are stable, with fixed Internet service at 88Mbps and mobile network reaching 26Mbps on average.

Therefore, he advised people who work at home and have children in home-based learning to use fixed broadband Internet compared to mobile data networks for better connections.

“I would like to impress on people that when you work at home, please use fixed broadband services, coupled with WiFi at your home, which allows you to move from the front of the house to the back of the house,” he added.

Meanwhile, in The Nation programme, Fadhlullah Suhaimi said the fiberisation process is crucial to provide a future-proof network.

So far, only 5.4 million premises, or 60% of the nine million premises in the country have been fiberised, he said.

Fadhlullah Suhaimi said that leaves 40% more to be done over the next four years.

“In the last four months, we have ramped up by 400,000 premises, and this year we are targeting another 1.2 million premises.

“Our target is to fiberise a total of 7.5 million premises by the end of next year, which will account for 85% of the premises,” he added.

He said it is a long-haul process and the spectrum itself is limited.

“So we will be upgrading in order to catch up all the time; and if we get it right, at least the infrastructure level will be closer to what we are seeing in South Korea or Singapore,” he added.

Asked on those who criticised the plan, he said he would not say whether the plan is good and bad, only that it is based on evidence and is data-driven.

“As with all plans, until the outcome is seen, there will always be naysayers. For me today, I’d have to take the good, the bad and the ugly,” he said.

Jendela, which is being implemented in two phases, aims to provide all Malaysians with quality access to digital connectivity nationwide.

Phase 1 (2020 to 2022) involves increasing 4G mobile coverage from 91.8% to 96.9% in populated areas, boosting mobile broadband speeds from 25Mbps to 35Mbps, and enabling up to 7.5 million premises gigabit speed fixed-line broadband. This concerns the gradual retirement of 3G networks by end-2021.

Phase 2 (2022 and beyond) involves utilising fixed wireless access and other fit-for-purpose technologies to address further gaps in the digital divide as well as 5G planning and priming for infrastructure to be 5G-ready.