Here’s What The New Turbo-charged Internet Speed Mean To Malaysia

high speed broadband

Whether you are in the middle of a DotA game or a video call with your family overseas, we can all agree that unstable Internet is a bane of our existence.

This is why many Malaysians rejoiced when a directive was given by the new Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo, on his plan to bring down the cost of broadband in the country by 25% by end of this year, followed by the announcement from Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) to increase the internet speed by ten folds. We live in exciting times!

However, will these changes finally rank Malaysia higher in terms of global broadband speed?

The current price and speed for Internet

Shockingly, Malaysians have been paying more than they should for the Internet, based on a report by The World Bank.

“While Malaysia has made significant progress in terms of facilitating affordable access to mobile Internet services, the cost of access to high-speed broadband services is relatively high compared to other countries,” the report said.

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The international firm conducted research to find out the price per Mbps for each country surveyed and Malaysia ranked 74 out of 167 countries for fixed broadband services and 64 out of 118 for fibre broadband services.

CountryAverage Broadband Speed (Mbps)Minimum Entry Price (RM)
Hong Kong

To make things worse, the same report also acknowledged that Malaysia’s average download speed was ranked 63rd out of 130 countries, with an average download speed of 22.56 Mbps in 2017. This is significantly lower than regional comparators such as Singapore, which ranked in top place (161.53 Mbps) and the Republic of Korea, which came in third (129.64 Mbps).

“Countries at similar levels of economic development as Malaysia also have significantly faster download speeds. For example, Hungary has an average download speed of 90.94 Mbps, while Thailand has an average speed of 41.35 Mbps,” it said.

The cost of slow Internet speed

Malaysians have been enduring the overpriced broadband services for more than a decade, while many of us are also familiar with the annoyingly unstable Internet connection. However, there seems to be a bigger impact on all of us from expensive and slow Internet speed that we may not have acknowledged.

Due to the slower Internet speed, our economy has not been able to grow at an optimum pace because industries such as e-commerce and digital start-ups have a hard time maintaining and scaling their productivity and efficiency.

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International Telecommunications Union (ITU) published a report just a few years ago, showing the positive impact of broadband connectivity to global economies.

On top of the direct benefits such as improved workplaces and business functions, everyone in a country with better Internet speed also has access to better facilities and civic participation.

With Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) set up in Malaysia as the region’s leading logistics hub, many agencies and businesses have stepped up their game to catch up with the growing electronic marketplace demand. However, this is still a pipe dream if continue to be hindered by the current Internet speed. The productivity could have been much higher if we have a faster Internet speed.

In 2015, the e-commerce contribution to GDP was 5.9%, or RM68.3 billion, before increasing to 6.1%, or RM74.6 billion in 2016, according to this news report. If our Internet speed were to continue at its current pace without improvement, we will not be able to achieve the target of digital economy’s contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) of 20% by the year 2020. This is worrying as most of the economy in Asia Pacific countries will be digitalised at 60% by the year 2021.

Without the right infrastructure in place, we will always be looking at our neighbouring countries with jealousy and resentment.

Not forgetting the pricing packages in the market prior to TM’s announcement of affordable package at RM79, many families especially in the rural areas or those who belong to the B40 income group in the city areas are finding it difficult to afford a package which could cost up 20% or 30% of their monthly income at the range of RM1,000 to RM2,000.

Will the improved speed be a game changer?

To recap, TM has announced to improve the broadband speed up to 10x for existing UniFi Home customers in stages at zero cost, starting August this year.

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“UniFi Home 20Mbps (megabits per second) or lower subscribers will be upgraded to 100Mbps, 30Mbps plan to 300Mbps, 50Mbps plan to 500Mbps, and 100Mbps to 800Mbps,” The Star report added.

UniFi Product Existing Speed
After Upgrades
20 Mbps
100 Mbps
30 Mbps
300 Mbps
50 Mbps
500 Mbps
100 Mbps
800 Mbps

With this new move, it is safe to say that consumers can expect more competitions to happen in the near future as TM’s direct competitors, Maxis and TIME are most likely to follow the trend in improving the Internet speed by introducing new packages in order to keep up or outperform the former.

Faster Internet speed will be a boon for businesses in the country to increase productivity and become more competitive on the global stage. Different industries should have no excuse to remain stagnant given the better infrastructure supporting constant improvements in productivity and skills.

For consumers, this doesn’t just translate into reduced buffering when your streaming your favourite movie or show, but it also means higher contributions from our digital economy to Malaysia’s GDP. With better Internet speed, consumers will be more likely to support the e-commerce industries.

In terms of global rankings, we should also aim for the top 50 over the following two to three years, or at least close the gap in comparison with our neighbouring countries, Thailand and Singapore which has the starting price for 50 Mbps at RM74 and RM134 for 1 Gbps respectively. Malaysia is currently offering RM120 for 10 Mbps.

With that being said, existing customers can now look forward to enjoying up to possibly 1Gbps next year onwards. Nonetheless, consumers like you and me will need to continue voicing out our demands and frustrations so we can constantly improve our Internet connection, speed and pricing from our Internet service providers.

As with any products, consumers should keep an eye on the latest broadband plans offered by different providers in the country. This is so we can always choose the better plan that caters to our specific needs, in terms of pricing, speed, quotas, and coverage.

Ooi Chia Shen, freelance writer

Shen is a passionate freelance writer experienced in business, corporate and personal finance industry. Shen has been writing in both hard printing and digital platforms for about five years now and was a senior content writer in a local financial comparison site. Prior to that, Shen was a business journalist for Focus Malaysia, writing weekly feature covering listed companies, economy and property market issues.

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