Below is the commentary from Tan Sri Rainer Althoff, Malaysia Chairman, Nokia Siemens Networks.
We welcome the latest government initiatives in line with the National Broadband Initiative (NBI) and High Speed Broadband (HSBB) service, as announced last night by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. The six initiatives launched look set to drive the nation’s social and economic growth and competiveness, increasing investor confidence and promoting innovative thinking, helping to place Malaysia firmly on the global map.
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. With broadband penetration low at only 32.2 percent there is still much work to be done to bring the country in line with the likes of Korea, Singapore and Japan. It’s therefore reassuring to see that the government has introduced specific measures to address this.
According to the latest Connectivity Scorecard 2010, a global connectivity study commissioned by Nokia Siemens Networks, Malaysia ranked the highest for deployment and usage of ICT within its grouping of resource driven economies for the third consecutive year. While this is encouraging, the question is where do we go from here? How do we as a nation achieve a ranking amongst the innovation lead nations, especially in the area of consumer broadband and business infrastructure?
At Nokia Siemens Networks we strongly believe there is an urgent need to bridge the digital divide created by extremes in availability and quality of both fixed and mobile broadband services in rural areas compared with cities. As such, we applaud Government plans to expand cellular coverage by building 873 new telecommunications towers including 278 in Sabah and 257 in Sarawak. However, it’s clear that these initiatives can only be achieved with the right technology capable of supporting a working network in remote areas.
To address this and in support of the government’s SCORE (Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy) initiative, at Nokia Siemens Networks we are encouraging service providers to make renewable energies such as wind and solar to power base stations the first choice, especially those in off-grid/bad-grid locations. With renewable energy base stations, service providers can not only reduce their carbon footprint, but also lower operational expenditure with a positive impact on the bottom line.
It is estimated that up to 5% of Malaysian communications service provider (CSP) sites are “off-grid” i.e. there is no access to power and many more are considered “bad-grid” i.e. limited access to power. This means that a significant proportion of Malaysians are denied access to broadband by virtue of where they live and work. However, we’re encouraged to see that local service providers such as Maxis are already announcing plans to extend their network in these two states.
The latest initiatives by the government, and service providers, will surely help improve livelihoods, create jobs and drive innovation towards national transformation. But, one thing is for sure, if Malaysia is to achieve high-income, developed nation status with ubiquitous broadband it will require the collective efforts of government, corporate Malaysia, technology leaders and forward looking service providers.