Malaysia pushes to become a ‘digital nation’

Ahmad Shabery Cheek, Minister of Communications and Multimedia Commission in Putrajaya, recently said that Malaysia would be moving into a more connected digitally advanced era and become a digital nation.

The minister explained the move was made to encourage consumers to get into “the digital mainstream” and “participate in the digital and internet economies”. The initiative will be across both mobile and fixed services, and basic broadband packages will cost significantly less. He added the price reduction worked out to be about 14% lower than current prices.

“This is very encouraging for consumers and I thank the communications providers for coming up with these value-for-money packages,” he said.

He added the MCMC and the ministry were also mindful of the quality of the services provided as the country moved towards a transaction-based economy and more people were transacting with government and businesses online. He said there must be consistent and sufficient investment in order to improve the quality of services.

Meanwhile, major industry players have also expressed their support for the initiative.

For fixed services, Telekom Malaysia (TM) will soon be offering prices that are 57% lower than the current price at RM88 for the basic package. Zamzamzairani Mohd Isa, TM’s group chief executive officer, said the company applauded the government’s move to drive broadband adoption via more affordable broadband packages.

He added the move was in line with the brand’s aspiration to “deliver an integrated digital lifestyle with an enhanced and seamless customer experience beyond technology, products and services and devices”.

Celcom Axiata’s CEO Dato’ Sri Shazalli Ramly echoed his support for the minister to get the nation more connected.

“We heed the minister’s call to reduce broadband service charges to encourage greater internet usage among the public. Celcom is committed towards championing the rakyat’s needs to gain access to the latest technology and ensuring that everyone is connected to affordable broadband and fast internet speeds,” he said.

“As the world goes digital, it is critical for every Malaysian to have equal opportunity to access the internet. We recognise the need for the right entry level plans to accelerate adoption among Malaysians from all walks of life. DiGi therefore supports the minister’s call for easier access to internet services, and is committed to fast-track delivery of our ‘internet for all’ promise which is rooted on the same principle of affordable access for broadband and mobile internet services.”

Meanwhile, Maxis’ CEO Morten Lundal also added another dimension. He said that broadband was not just accessed through PC and postpaid smartphones, but also through prepaid solutions.

U Mobile’s CEO Wong Heang Tuck also said that U Mobile sentiments were in line with the ministry’s and MCMC’s direction and this move would eventually benefit the nation in the long run.

Starcom MediaVest Group’s SMG and Vivaki CEO, Ahmad El Hamawi, said this was a positive incentive to connect the disconnected and further grow the Malaysian digital nation.

He added this could be part of a long-term government plan which had an eye on the future.

“The low pricing strategy is only an anchor or a way to entice disconnected households with basic internet surfing needs to be part of this digital ecosystem rather than an ISPs (internet service providers) fight over market share,” he said.

“I say that because of the marginal discount offered on the premium services versus the low speed data-capped package.

“Thinking of the global initiative driven by Mark Zuckerberg which is now live in some SEA markets such as the Philippines and Indonesia, I can’t help but appreciate such a local move by telcos towards an internet nation.”

He added that in the long-term consumers would value these services and make their entire experience less dependent on pricing only.