MCMC: Putrajaya looking to boost country’s digital infrastructure

A TM modem and wireless router are pictured in Kuala Lumpur November 22, 2018. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
A TM modem and wireless router are pictured in Kuala Lumpur November 22, 2018. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 23 — The government is developing a plan to invest and further improve the country’s digital infrastructure to ensure greater availability of broadband services by promoting competition.

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), in a statement issued tonight, said it focused on digital infrastructure improvement and right-of-way issues that would continue to be discussed with the state governments and local authorities.

“Addressing these issues effectively will help in reducing the cost of infrastructure implementation and enabling wider coverage for high-speed broadband.

“The availability of digital infrastructure is a key factor in bringing about economic benefits and equitable growth that can be enjoyed by all states and not just a few selected areas within the country,” said MCMC.

Other measures to consider would include liberalising activities in the key strategic areas that lack competition, as well as using all existing regulatory tools within its purview to ensure the availability of world-class infrastructure in Malaysia, it said.

“Studies are underway to ensure optimum spectrum usage and 5G planning in 2019," it said.

It also said that government policy was critical in ensuring that Malaysians enjoy the benefits of the efforts implemented, whether to improve the digital infrastructure or to reduce the cost of implementation and prices to consumers.

Citing the report of the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), it said the government’s active policies, as well as a transparent regulator had resulted in Malaysia being placed first out of 61 countries.

“The ranking takes into account of government policies that support the expansion of public access, digital infrastructure and the use of smartphones,” said MCMC.

The statement also clarified on the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) 1998, effective April 1999, has four key areas of regulatory frameworks, namely economic, technical, social and consumer protection aimed at developing the communications and multimedia industry.

When the public-private partnership agreement was signed between the government and Telekom Malaysia (TM) to develop high-speed broadband networks in 2008, the implementation of three wholesale services in the Access List, namely, Full Access service, Line Sharing service and Sub-Loop service had been postponed for seven years.

During that period, TM could offer services on a commercial basis without any regulatory intervention from MCMC.

Since 2001, MCMC has been regulating access to these facilities and services when the First Access List was issued followed by mandated  maximum prices for such facilities and services in 2003 with Mandatory Standard on Access Pricing (MSAP).

In 2015, MCMC had carried out a review and issued a Commission Determination on Access List.

It said that the Access List was to regulate the facilities and services which should be provided by service providers to other service providers at the wholesale level to ensure effective competition that would ultimately benefit consumers who would have more choices, thereby enhancing the quality of products and services as well as more attractive prices.

It also said that unlike other countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom, Singapore and New Zealand that adopted structural separation for high-speed broadband networks to promote competition for consumers’ interests, MCMC had not considered such measures as existing instruments were sufficient.

In 2016, MCMC carried out a review of the non-pricing terms and conditions of access and issued the Commission Determination on the Mandatory Standard on Access to ensure that access to networks provided in a fair and non-discriminatory manner.

A cost review was carried out in 2017 to determine the access price for the facilities and services listed on the Access List through public inquiry, with licensees and the public being given the opportunity to make submissions to MCMC.

“All major operators such as Celcom Axiata Berhad, Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd, Maxis Berhad, TTdotcom Sdn Bhd and Telekom Malaysia Berhad made detailed submissions to MCMC. Other operators such as U Mobile Sdn Bhd, edotco Malaysia Sdn Bhd, webe Digital Sdn Bhd and YTL Communications Sdn Bhd also made the submissions,” the statement said.

MSAP, was then issued in December 2017, to regulate wholesale prices for facilities and services in the Access List, including, for the first time, high-speed broadband services, effective Jan 1, 2018.

The fully implemented MSAP in June 2018, brought the positive impact, witnessing lower wholesale prices for access to high speed broadband networks that led to greater competition and broadband services with entry-level packages prices being reduced by more than 30 per cent.

According to a statement, the Speedtest Global Index in October 2018 survey found Malaysia’s position had risen by 10 spots to become the 26th fastest country in the world for Internet speed with an average speed of 61.97 Mbps compared to the average global speed at 50.88Mbps.

Among Asean countries, with the exception of Singapore, Malaysia ranked high, above Thailand (33), Vietnam (62) and Indonesia (92) out of 130 countries.

This development was quite different compared to February 2018 when the World Bank reported that the average download speed in Malaysia was at only 22.56Mbps. — Bernama