MOBILE and fixed broadband subscription rate per 100 inhabitants in Malaysia has been increasing slowly over the past five years.
According to the Malaysia Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) data, first quarter of 2020 recorded 3.036 mil fixed broadband subscribers compared with 2.947 mil in 2019 and 2.655 mil in 2018, while 2016 and 2017 saw 2.491 mil and 2.588 mil subscribers respectively.
Meanwhile, mobile broadband subscribers dropped slightly to 38.669 mil in the first quarter of 2020 against 40.431 mil in 2019. However, the 2020 subscription rate is still higher than 2018 subscription at 36,795 mil, 28,532 mil in 2016 and 35,257 mil in 2017.
The increase in broadband subscription over the last five year can be attributed to lower Internet charges coupled with higher speed.
The Rakyat Post in a Feb 2020 report, highlighted that fixed broadband packages have increased from 10 Mbps to 30 Mbps, while the price has dropped from RM130 to RM79 per month, especially since end-2018.
According to MCMC’s latest data, as at March this year, Malaysia ranked third in Southeast Asia and 39 in the world in terms of fixed-broadband average download speed.
The Edge, early last year, quoted former communications and multimedia minister Gobind Singh Deo as saying that the ministry had successfully slashed broadband prices by 25%.
“We have seen most of the telecommunication companies (telcos) including Celcom Axiata Bhd, Maxis Bhd and TIME dotCom Bhd, dropping their broadband prices by 30% to 65%,” he said.
Aside from improved Internet speed and prices, the steady increase in broadband subscription is also a result of new government policies that encourage Internet subscription, being introduced.
The New Straits Times in April last year reported that the Communications and Multimedia Ministry was proposing for Internet connectivity to be listed under utilities on par with water and electricity supply, as part of its efforts to expand broadband penetration nationwide.
According to the report, Gobind Singh said: “Internet connectivity could be considered a daily necessity in an age where it plays a pertinent role in various aspects of development including the economy.
“I am in the process of proposing to the government to tailor a policy in which Internet connectivity will be listed as a utility, which means that it will be given the same emphasis just like water and electricity.”
The rise in broadband subscription is also supported by higher penetration rate across the country, owing to the national fiberisation plan which aspires to make Internet available in all areas of the country, including rural areas.
A RM21.6 bil national connectivity plan was approved in August 2019 to bridge the digital divide between urban and rural areas.
Broadband penetration rate per 100 inhabitants also saw a hike from 2016 to 2019 but fell slightly in the first quarter of 2020.
It rose from 99.8% in 2016 to 131.7% in 2019 and declined to 127.4% in the first quarter of 2020.
The latest quarterly figures released by MCMC, clearly shows that the government has been successful in its efforts to boost broadband penetration and subscription.
A Focus Malaysia report in Jan 2017 stated that the government’s efforts to bridge the digital divide between rural and urban communities appeared to have not yielded the desired result and that ineffective policies and high broadband price were the cause for the drop in household broadband penetration rate in many states. – Sept 15, 2020