Internet connectivity to be listed as utility — Gobind

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KUALA LUMPUR (April 22): The Communications and Multimedia Ministry is in the process of proposing that Internet connectivity be listed as utility, just like water and electricity supplies.

Its Minister Gobind Singh Deo said the proposal was among efforts to expand Internet connectivity access nationwide.

“I am in the process of proposing to the Government, so that we can create a policy for Internet connectivity to become a utility, meaning it is given the same emphasis as water and electricity.

“We must accept the fact that the world will progress with the help of Internet, that’s why the Government is taking active and proactive steps in ensuring Internet access is available to all Malaysians, regardless of where they are.

“So, in the future, we need not view the construction as having connectivity problems, where we have to see the fibre optic telco contractors, which will be time-consuming and costly...so we wish to overcome this problem, which will be an achievement for my ministry. We understand and accept the importance of this connectivity,” he said in a special interview in conjunction with the one-year anniversary of the Pakatan Harapan government administration at his office in Wisma Angkasapuri today.

According to Gobind, the proposal had been discussed with the Minister of Housing and Local Government (Zuraida Kamaruddin), and there were suggestions to ensure all buildings in new development projects, be it residential or office, be equipped with Internet access.

Meanwhile, Gobind also drew attention to efforts by his Ministry to lower the Internet service charges so that everyone would have similar access to world technology with global-standard Internet speed and benefit various sectors, like agriculture, farming, medical, transport and e-commerce projects.

“In Malaysia, there is no official Internet speed limit for the people that we can say that we have successfully created a good infrastructure. Unofficially, we have 30 mps, and at the time, we set it, how do we reach that level and at the same time reduce the cost of broadband.

“So, when we introduce new prices under the National Fiberisation and Connectivity Plan (NFCP), we’ll see that the broadband price reducing. Prices have gone down in some cases, almost more than half. But on average among four telcos, it has come down almost at 50 percent,” he said.

Among the main objectives of the NFCP existence is to achieve a baseline of 98 percent broadband coverage in inhabited areas by 2023, with a minimum broadband speed of 30 mbps so that 5G can be effectively implemented nationwide, especially in remote areas.

Meanwhile, asked about reports his Ministry received regarding Internet and speed, Gobind said although he had announced the ministry’s objectives, it would still take time to be fully implemented.

“We already have the data and we have found ways to solve it. We need to take some time. Of course there are efforts being implemented in the improvement process. For example, for Streamyx, we have discussed with TM.

“It’s just that it’s not time yet to make an announcement. In two to three weeks’ time, hopefully we can make an announcement and resolve all these problems as fast as we can,” he added.

Gobind said Internet and connectivity were among his main focus in ensuring that the infrastructure was enjoyed and utilised and that all the problems arising, such as cost and speed, had been resolved since he took over the ministry 11 months ago.

“The 5G (Fifth Generation) pioneer project is a part of that (objective). It is also linked with the expansion of NFCP, which is related to infrastructure and bringing about change.

“We must accept the fact that 10 to 20 years ago, that technology may have been key, but today the speed is slow, not reaching the level it should. Because of that, through NFCP, we focus on overcoming this problem and also build a more effective network system,” he said.

He stressed that the connectivity factor was crucial in giving the public access to various information and future success, apart from increasing knowledge in all fields related to their lives.