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Long-awaited catalyst for Malaysian industry': TM's HSBB

AvantiKumar | April 1, 2010
Reactions to the recent launch of Telekom Malaysia's high speed broadband service
KUALA LUMPUR, 1 APRIL 2010 ICT industry  reactions to Telekom Malaysia's launch last week of its high speed broadband [HSBB] service UniFi have been largely positive from analysts and ICT industry leaders.

The deployment and launch of the HSBB network or UniFi' has been much anticipated and will hopefully allow Malaysia to finally catch up to our regional peers such as Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan who have launched these services much earlier, said analyst firm Frost & Sullivan director, ICT practice, Asia Pacific, Delesh Kumar.

This deployment will provide multiple benefits to the country as a whole, said Kumar. Service providers such as TM and its potential partners will finally be able to play the value and application strategy to acquire subscribers (compared to the current practice of price and bandwidth wars).

If end-users take-up goes as expected, this will provide a ready market for application and content developers to finally invest in local solutions that would help drive more domestic Internet traffic, in addition to attracting more global content owners and aggregation outfits to house their content in Malaysia, he said.

Given that ICT plays such an essential role in the country's growth and general well-being of its citizens, at Nokia Siemens Networks, we feel that broadband should be made readily accessible and affordable to all, said Nokia Siemens Network, Malaysia chairman, Tan Sri Rainer Althoff. With broadband penetration low at only 32.2 per cent there is still much work to be done to bring the country in line with the likes of South Korea, Singapore and Japan.

With this new infrastructure and all the incentives, we are more bullish on achieving and even exceeding the 50 per cent household penetration target, said Intel Malaysia country manager, Ryaz Patel. The ecosystem has all the necessary building blocks to deliver.  We now have to put them in motion and execute to plan.

HSBB is a flagship project of the National Broadband Initiative [NBI] that is expected to help boost the country's competitiveness and enable citizens and businesses to tap into the opportunities in the social and economic spheres. From the economic perspective, HSBB is expected to have a high multiplier effect for businesses, allowing for easier and more efficient collaboration that will drive productivity levels higher and enhance revenue generation.

Signed in September 2008, the US$3.4 billion (RM11.3 billion) national HSBB project is a public-private-partnership [PPP] agreement between TM and the Malaysian government to develop next-generation high-speed broadband infrastructure and services for the nation. TM is putting up US$2.69 billion (RM8.9 billion) while the government is co-investing US$730 million (RM2.4 billion) on an incurred claims basis based on project milestones reached by TM.


 Long-awaited catalyst

With the reliance of the information age and the emergence of new technologies such as cloud computing, this will allow information to be available and accessible 24/7. This initiative will provide the backbone and catalyst that many businesses have been yearning for many years now and to enable them to compete on the global market, said consulting firm KPMG partner in charge, advisory, IT advisory, Paul Bahnisch.

Security solutions firm Symantec Malaysia managing director Suzie Tan said broadband adoption in Malaysia would be expected to accelerate.

HSBB offers many benefits for consumers, SMEs [small and medium enterprises] and SOHOs [small office or home office], said Tan. This will potentially allow better collaboration among businesses locally and globally, as well as improve productivity and overall quality of service on the Internet. Consumers will also be able to enjoy entertainment and content that requires high bandwidth such as Internet-protocol TV (IPTV) which has also been launched with HSBB.

The triple-play bundling by TM will solicit positive response from many, while others who had hoped for clear options may hopefully see value in the bundling, said Malaysia's national ICT industry association [PIKOM] chairman, C.J. Ang. We hope that over time, the price level will be further brought down and/or the speeds brought further up to be comparable to that of our regional competitors. 

Following TM's HSBB rollout, we hope more homes will have the opportunity to experience high speed broadband and to embrace an exciting and productive lifestyle through the use of online services and the convenience of e-commerce, said PIKOM chairman, Wei Chuan Beng. It is our hope that TM will be able to roll out the services as fast as possible and to more homes nationwide.

Red Hat Asia Pacific Malaysia country sales manager, Basheer Ali Majeed, said: The opportunities for cloud computing, an Internet-based model, for example, are vast. And spurred by the country's six national broadband initiatives, cloud computing is likely to become even more attractive now in Malaysia as HSBB would see an increasing number of small to medium enterprises (SMEs) turning to the cloud rather than relying on self-hosted applications.


 Security concerns

Symantec's Tan said while the company looked forward to the coming phases of Telekom Malaysia's HSBB deployment, there were concerns about security.

While HSBB brings many benefits to Malaysians, around the globe, Symantec has observed that the increase of broadband adoption also increases the malicious cyber space activities in a country, resulting in higher risks of cyber threats to users, she said.

Malicious activities usually affect computers with broadband connectivity as they are equipped with large bandwidth capacities, more stable connections, fast transfer speeds, and are connected 24x7, she said. These are attractive to cyber attackers because of their increased ability and capacity to mount attacks.

It is worth noting that the Asia Pacific and Japan region has the highest percentage of Internet activity in the world, according to Symantec's Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR), and it has the highest global broadband population by regional breakdown, accounting for 38 per cent of the world's users, she added. This high rate of broadband penetration may account for the high rates of malicious activity found in this region overall.

 

 Depends on value and experience

This is the time, for business, technology leaders and service providers to capitalise on the broadband and envisage innovative systems that are vital to the economic and social future of our nation, said Cisco Malaysia managing director, Anne Abraham.

Connectivity alone is not enough as we are only as strong as the systems and infrastructure we have, said Abraham. In taking the NBI to the next level, we should explore and creatively use next-generation broadband technologies to create smart and connected applications and communities in Malaysia. This is particularly important in education, healthcare, infrastructure, government and financial services of the future. 

End-users will obviously benefit from a better Internet experience, and if the supply and demand industry responds favourably to this network, the development of the overall eco-system will have a cascading effect to increasing the usage and awareness of Internet services among the general masses, and finally drive strong broadband adoption in the HSBB as well as lower broadband speeds that will still be available, said Frost & Sullivan's Kumar.

Lower broadband speeds will still remain the primary revenue stream for the next three to five years for existing and emerging service providers, he said.

However, all of this depends on two elements value and experience, Kumar said. The service should provide the perceived value in regards to network quality and price so that initial adopters give UniFi a thumbs-up, paving the path for positive WOM (word-of-mouth) that will be required for more general mass market adoption.  As for service providers, providing a plain vanilla connectivity service doesn't make commercial sense in the long run.

To build a business model on additional services, the IPTV and interactive experience that it will be offering has to be able to compete with the existing pay TV as well as PC-based services that have decades of headstart and a more established eco-system, service portfolio and ultimately, what's important subscribers and eyeballs, he said.

 

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