KUALA LUMPUR, April 5 — Malaysia’s Internet speed is slower than some of its Asean neighbours as priority is given to coverage areas, the Communications and Multimedia Ministry has said.

The ministry pointed out different countries have different priority policies for broadband services.

“Currently the Malaysian government places more priority on the provision of connectivity to as many areas as possible in the entire country, compared to several other Asean countries that focus more on Internet speed compared to the number of areas that are given service coverage.

“Therefore, the average Internet speed for Malaysia is reported as quite low when compared to several other Asean countries where the measurement for priority and needs for the provision of broadband services differ from one another,” it said in a written parliamentary reply, without naming the other Asean countries.

The ministry said however that Malaysia is second only to Singapore within the Asean region in terms of information and communications technology (ICT) development, based on a 2015 report by the International Telecommunications Union.

In the same ICT Development Index 2015, Malaysia improved its position globally by rising from 71th spot in 2013 to 64th out of 167 countries, also climbing one rung to the 8th spot in the Asia Pacific region.

“To ensure the provision of greater Internet connectivity coverage, the government is always working towards increasing Internet speed in stages, with priority given to areas that have high economic impact as the cost that is required is very high,” the ministry said.

In sharing the ministry’s efforts, it said it is currently carrying out phase two of the High Speed Broadband (HSBB 2) project since last year involving 390,000 ports and will also upgrade Internet speed in the rural areas through the suburb broadband (SUBB) project involving 420,000 ports.

The government is also working to expand cellular Internet connectivity by building new communication towers and also upgrading 3G coverage through existing towers.

The ministry was responding to Pengkalan Chepa MP Dr Izani Husin, who had asked the Communications and Multimedia Minister to state why Malaysia’s Internet speed is below the average speed in South-east Asian countries and why it has high charges.

He had also asked the ministry on its solution to increase Malaysia’s Internet speed and with reasonable charges imposed.