Malaysia’s development goals are on track with nationwide broadband network

Malaysia has been working towards a clear national objective to see it ranked as a fully developed nation by the year 2020, according to Research & Markets. This Vision 2020 was a concept introduced by the former Prime Minister Mr Mahathir in 1991 when he launched the Sixth Malaysia Plan.

The task of building an advanced telecom sector has strong relevance to achieving this national objective, and has also been a matter of national pride. For a period in the 1990s the country was busy promoting itself as a regional high technology hub. In recent times, however, it has adopted a quieter profile and gone about the task of putting what might be described as a technologically progressive economy in place. With the widespread application of modern technologies such as fibre optics, wireless transmission, digitalisation and satellite services, Malaysia has been steadily moving towards achieving its national goals.

The generally strong growth across the country’s telecom sector inevitably brought with it a flurry of investment interest and activity. The telecommunication market in Malaysia has experienced privatisation in all facets of the industry and this has meant a general opening up of the market, with a significant number of new licences being granted. While still in an expansion phase, Malaysia’s telecom sector has undergone some important restructuring. This has involved the regulator progressively introducing reforms.

In the meantime, the telecom companies have been doing battle in an increasingly competitive and changing market. It is true to say that the last decade has seen healthy overall growth in Malaysia’s telecom sector. At the same time, substantial government participation in Information & Communications Technology (ICT) development has also been a particular characteristic of the Malaysian market.

The developmental effort in the telecom sector has been led by a booming mobile market, with 37 million subscribers and penetration approaching 130% coming into 2012. Although subscriber growth has slowed in recent years, a major move by the operators into mobile broadband has seen vigorous growth in the mobile market, with strengthening ARPUs.

The fixed-line market by contrast has moved along a much more subdued path with just 4 million subscribers (14% penetration) by end-2011 and annual growth running at zero or declining. There were no real signs that the fixed-line market was going to start picking up again, this despite the government still having some rather ambitious targets in place. Fixed lines nevertheless have remained an important element in the building of a national telecom infrastructure.

The adoption of broadband internet was the big news in Malaysia coming into 2012. Finally the long awaited surge in internet demand was evident, this happening after a period of slower than expected development. High speed broadband first started to take off in 2008 and by March 2012 there were around 5.8 million broadband subscribers with 64% of these wireless based.

The arrival of a range of wireless broadband services saw these technologies overwhelm a market previously dominated by Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) technology. Telekom Malaysia had been the dominant broadband service provider. This was being challenged to some extent as the market opened up and wireless broadband became more widespread.

A major boost to the country’s broadband strategy occurred when the government chose Telekom Malaysia to roll out a National Broadband Network (NBN). In what was referred to as the High-Speed Broadband (HSBB) project, Telekom Malaysia (TM) was busy building a fibre-based open system. By early 2012 the roll out was on target and the TM had already signed up some major players to make use of capacity on its network. In the meantime, TM had also signed up 400,000 customers to its own HSBB-based UniFi service.

Sign-up to our weekly newsletter

Keep up-to-date with all the latest news, articles, event and product updates posted on Developing Telecoms.
Subscribe to our FREE weekly email newsletters for the latest telecom info in developing and emerging markets globally.
Sending occasional e-mail from 3rd parties about industry white papers, online and live events relevant to subscribers helps us fund this website and free weekly newsletter. We never sell your personal data. Click here to view our privacy policy.