Comms Minister’s 5G bravado: Between bragging rights and real benefits for the people

MALAYSIA has a tendency of breaking global records which has little to no significance to its people. The Merdeka 118 Tower, for example, is the tallest in the region and second in the world next to the Burj Khalifa in the United Arab Emirates.

But as we gawk at the awesome architecture that has transformed the Kuala Lumpur landscape, pockets of hardcore poor still live in the city, to speak nothing of those without proper running water and electricity in the interiors, especially in East Malaysia.

So, it came as no surprise that when Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil recently announced that Malaysia now ranks number one globally for 5G Consistency Score, many Malaysians had to resist rolling their eyes, if not view the statement with contempt.

Malaysia scored 97.29% according to Ookla, a global leader in network intelligence and connectivity insights.

What is so great about the “achievement” when – just like pockets of urban poor juxtaposed against the towering Merdeka 118 Tower – many telco users often complain about dropped lines and intermittent connections for 4G or lower usage?

Fahmi could do Malaysians a great favour if he had focused on improving service quality among the telco companies in Malaysia first before heaping praise on the country’s lofty achievements in the 5G quality score.

Has the Pantai MP looked into the plight of citizens like Veveonah Mosibi who had to climb a tree in her village in Pitsa, Sabah, to get internet connection to sit for her varsity exams during the lockdown?

While Vevenonah’s problem had been resolved with the installation of a communications tower near her home, there are many more “Veneonahs” in this country. They yearn for stable and speedy network connectivity to carry out a multitude of tasks, or even ply their trade, in today’s increasingly connected world.

Veveonah Mosibi (Pic credit:

And besides, not many Malaysians own a 5G compatible phone yet without which they would not be able to enjoy the advantages of the network. So, there’s nothing really to shout about when Malaysia emerges world-beater in 5G service when most Malaysians are struggling to enjoy quality network connectivity.

And speaking of 5G, what has happened to the second company under the Dual Network Model which was supposed to have started transitioning in January?

Fahmi was previously quoted as saying that a second company would be set up to deploy 5G besides Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB) under the Dual Network Model once 80% of populated areas already have 5G coverage.

It’s time the Communications Ministry gets its priority right. While our achievements in the 5G area may score some media coverage, what does that actually mean to the many laypeople out there at the end of the day?

We do not want to be known as a country which keeps breaking world records that are of little to no significance to its people. Or worse still, breaking records that only put the country on an embarrassing position. – Feb 27, 2024

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