TeAM wants HSBB to be more inclusive

The Technopreneurs Association of Malaysia (TeAM) welcomes the initiative by Telekom Malaysia and the Malaysian government to provide HSBB for the Malaysian public. We feel that it is timely that Malaysian citizens and business entities  have access to HSBB as this will catalyse and enhance the environment for the digital economy in Malaysia. We are confident that this will also help with the government’s initiative to create a New Economic Model for the nation.

We are however concerned about a few matters:
1.     Affordability is still an issue. On a comparative basis, HSBB is still very expensive in Malaysia. For example, per capita incomes in the UK and Australia are above US$35,000 per year and high-speed broadband access costs only around US$600 per year or around 0.02% of the average person’s per capita income. In Malaysia, whose per capita income is US$14,500, the average annual HSBB cost is 2.5 times that of Australia and UK at 0.05% of per capita income. In fact, in a country with a lower per capita income we should have even cheaper access so we can encourage uptake. We feel that unless costs are lowered significantly, the benefits envisioned by the government will not be achieved. We therefore propose that HSBB be offered at RM99 for the 10Mbps package.

2. Since the government is subsidising the HSBB effort, Telekom Malaysia should not view HSBB as a pure commercial venture. There should be a social angle to this and this should be reflected in low prices for users.

3.     Businesses should also be given better access at lower prices to encourage the growth of a digital economy that can contribute to the national income.

4.     TM should also be more flexible with their packages and should allow consumers to select unbundled options. This will give them more choice and should be the way in which HSBB is offered. TM should not force consumers to take what is offered. This does not encourage high uptake as some consumers cannot afford a full package.

5.     TM should also open up their infrastructure for use by other parties that can act as ISPs (independent service providers). This will foster healthy competition which is necessary for higher uptake of HSBB. This includes opening up the “last mile” to such ISPs.

6.     As urban consumers are already broadband users, TM has to also focus on providing HSBB to suburban and rural areas at low prices. They should also speed up provision in these areas instead of focusing on high-income areas like Bangsar. HSBB should be a more inclusive programme and not only for the middle class or elite.

This article appeared in netv@lue2.0, the technology section of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 802 Apr 19 – 25 2010

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