The importance of internet has risen exponentially throughout the years. Internet connectivity is no longer a matter of providing leisure and convenience to us – it has also become an important enabler in various industries, including banking, e-commerce, technology, education, medical etc. The availability and quality of internet in an area could very well decide the socio-economic development of the area.
It is hence of paramount importance for not just the government but also all stakeholders to ensure that various areas in Malaysia is well connected because virtual connectivity dictates the pace and progress of various sectors of the country.
Throughout the 8 months since Pakatan Harapan took office in May 2018, improving connectivity has been one of our main goals. Many places in the country, including urban areas, are not yet connected with high speed broadband (“HSBB”), or as people typically say, “still no Unifi."
It’s actually inaccurate to equate Unifi to HSBB, as there are many network fiber providers (“NFP”) in Malaysia that can install and provide HSBB services, such as Time dot com, Maxis, Digi, whereas Unifi is just one of them provided by Telekom Malaysia (TM).
For HSBB to be available in an area, optic fiber has to be installed. As for why optic fiber isn't in place for many areas, the main reason is the complexity of setup and installation. Traditionally, for any NFP company to lay fiber in an area, it needs to go through several procedures, which include getting land permit, construction work approval, as well as other clearance from various departments.
Furthermore, it is relatively costly for trenching (or micro-trenching) works to be carried out. These are the systemic problems that make the fiber and internet industry to be less sustainable. In a lot of cases people need to wait for many years, or even decades, before optic fibers are available.
The significance of the TNB National Fiberisation & Connectivity Plan (NFCP) pilot project is that TNB leverages on their existing network and infrastructure to connect fibers to houses. The cost of setup is thus substantially reduced while the speed of installation can be substantially increased.
Jasin was chosen as its geographical and demographical traits match the government’s overall target in the NFCP masterplan - Jasin comprises not only urban residences but also sub-urban, outskirt and remote areas. 1,100 houses and shops benefited in the pilot project.
The NFCP pilot project by TNB, if successful and subsequently carried out on a larger scale by TNB, will greatly complement the industry. Fiber and internet providers will be able to fiberise many more locations in Malaysia at a much faster and cheaper manner.
I foresee the initiative to be a key changer to the internet industry and digital landscape of Malaysia.