Saturday, June 3, 2023

6 things for MCMC to be a better Regulator in the Telco Industry [Opinion]

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), also known in Malay as Suruhanjaya Komunikasi dan Multimedia Malaysia (SKMM), is a regulatory body that regulates the communications and multimedia industry in Malaysia.

According to the MCMC website, it’s objectives are:

  • Establish Malaysia as a major global centre and hub for communications and multimedia information and content services
  • Promote a civil society where information-based services will provide the basis of continuing enhancements to quality of work and life
  • Grow and nurture local information resources and cultural representation that facilitate the national identity and global diversity;
  • Regulate for the long-term benefit of the end user;
  • Promote a high level of consumer confidence in service delivery from the industry;
  • Ensure an equitable provision of affordable services over ubiquitous national infrastructure;
  • Create a robust applications environment for end users;
  • Facilitate the efficient allocation of resources such as skilled labour, capital, knowledge and national assets;
  • Promote the development of capabilities and skills within Malaysia’s convergence industries; and
  • Ensure information security and network reliability and integrity

Below are 6 things, in my opinion, that would make MCMC a better regulator in the Telco Industry:

Pick and Look into Complaints on Facebook and Twitter

There are 4 major mobile operators in this country, Maxis, Celcom, Digi and U Mobile. There are also thousands of complaints every month (in total) on the Facebook pages (Twitter as well) of these Telcos. A number of these complaints don’t get a reply, ignored by the mobile operators. These complaints ranges from billing, poor service, no coverage and spam, among others.

Perhaps MCMC should look into these cases individually and not wait until it gets a complaint from a subscriber. It should also directly response and participate on the Facebook pages of the Telcos. This way, the Telcos would do a better job in handling these complaints and solving it quickly. Doing this would likely result in fewer complaints to MCMC.

Set Guidelines for Mobile Service Failures

Digi and Celcom suffered some network issues a few days back. While Digi admitted the issue, Celcom did not. Postpaid users, for example, are billed around the clock, yet Telcos don’t compensate subscribers for the service downtime.

MCMC should look into these matters and perhaps make announcement or acknowledge these service outages.

MCMC should set the guidelines for compensation when mobile subscribers are not able to use the mobile service for a long period of time. Any outage above 4 hours should be compensated.

While some service outages are unavoidable, consumers should not be left in the dark. Telcos should report all service outages/failures via social media and its website regardless if the issue is big or small.

Fix Mobile Coverage Problems, force Domestic Roaming

Mobile Coverage problem has been an issue since the day of 2G networks was launched in Malaysia. This was more than 20 years ago. The Telcos are always “upgrading their network” and users are always experiencing poor service and no coverage when they move from one place to another.

MCMC should put these network issues to an end.

Over 30 million mobile subscriptions in this country would benefit should MCMC force domestic roaming among all 4 major mobile operators- Celcom, Maxis, Digi and U Mobile.

Domestic Roaming Agreement among the 4 mobile operators would mean that consumers get to enjoy the best mobile service in a particular area. If Maxis does not have coverage, subscribers should be able to use Celcom, Digi or U Mobile instantly.

For example, Operator A does not have coverage in Location X, but Operator B has good coverage. With Domestic Roaming in effect, Operator A subscribers can continue using the mobile service at Location X via the network of Operator B. In this case, Operator A has to pay Operator B for the usage of the roaming network at Location X. From a positive perspective, Operator A will make it a priority to fix its coverage problem at Location X as it would prefer its subscribers to use its own network. Ultimately, to avoid domestic roaming and the extra cost incurred due to poor coverage, all mobile operators would do its best to improve mobile coverage nationwide.

Domestic Roaming agreement between all mobile operators would also mean that consumers don’t need to suffer when one of the mobile network goes down. These days, mobile services are considered to be as important as water and electricity. It should be available to consumers 24/7.

One Stop Complaint Centre for Mobile Services

At the moment, when Telcos don’t resolve a complaint, subscribers could refer these complaints to Aduan MCMC and Communication and Multimedia Consumer Forum of Malaysia (CFM) or Communications and Multimedia Content Forum of Malaysia (CMCF).

But why are there too many parties to handle complaints? And how long does it take to resolve a complaint?

Why can’t there be just a one stop centre to resolve complaints?

In my opinion, CFM should be given the full powers to handle and resolve consumer complaints while MCMC gets to focus on other regulatory task. There should be a clear process and guidelines on how a complaint is handled and processed. A standard complaint must be resolved in 30 days or the Telco should be penalised (or users get compensation until the problem is resolved).

MCMC should also encourage consumers to make a report when service providers don’t resolve it.

Based on my personal experience and what I have observed over the years, complaints to CFM or MCMC are generally closed without fully satisfying the customer. At the moment, Telcos don’t get penalised on per cases basis.

Despite this, I always encourage my readers to make a report to MCMC and CFM as these complaints would contribute to their statistic report. CFM has a yearly report on how many complaints it gets in a year. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any similar report from MCMC.

I also find that the reports on the MCMC website are mostly outdated.

Statistics for Broadband – last report dated 2012
Consumer Satisfaction Survey – as of 19 May 2015
Quality of Service (QoS) Reports – last report dated 2003
Hand Phone Users Survey 2014  – last report dated 2015
Internet Users Survey– as of 15 January 2016

The Communications & Multimedia Statistics is the only one updated as of 3Q16.

MCMC should make available the statistic of complaints it gets in a year. It should also disclose which Telco has the highest number of complaints. This way, consumers will have a better understanding on what to expect when they choose a provider or switch operator (MNP).

Reduce our Broadband Pricing for Real

Malaysians love the Internet. We love Facebook, We love taking selfies and posting it online and We love watching Youtube. All these requires FAST Broadband speeds and a lot of quota.

Mobile operators in Malaysia have reduced pricing of their Internet plans over the past 2 years, but fixed broadband operators have yet to follow.

Telekom Malaysia commands about 90% of the fixed broadband market in Malaysia with over 2.37 million subscribers as of 3Q16. We are in the year of 2017, yet pricing for a 1Mbps Sreamyx service (unlimited usage) has remained over RM100 a month until today.

As Telekom Malaysia continues to offer expensive fixed broadband plans, I believe MCMC has yet to play a good role in reducing broadband pricing in the country.

For example, in response to MCMC, TM created the RM38/month, Streamyx Lite 1Mbps for 1GB data. But look at the market today, for RM38/month, users could enjoy a minimum 3GB mobile Internet data. This makes Streamyx Lite 1Mbps (1GB data) completely irrelevant anymore.

For a better comparison, a smaller Internet service provider (ISP) in Malaysia, TIME dotcom is able to offer 100Mbps fibre speed at RM149 a month but TM’s 30Mbps (now 50MBps) fibre Internet package is priced at RM179/month.

Why consumers should pay more for slower speeds from TM?

Another TM Streamyx 8Mbps package cost RM160/month. The pricing does not make sense considering Streamyx is using a very old technology and has been in service since 2001.

This is truly disappointing and not acceptable.

MCMC should take a firm stand on Broadband pricing. It should bring the industry together to reduce broadband pricing and set the guidelines.

If TIME dotCom is able to provide Malaysians with cheap fixed broadband plans, why can’t MCMC support them with HSBB/Broadband contracts and funding?

Internet Education for Adults

According to a Telenor study in 2016, Malaysia is most vulnerable to Internet scams in the region, with 46% of respondents saying they had been victims to scams.

A further 46% of Malaysian respondents saying they know a friend or family member who has been scammed online.

Of those who have been subject to an online scam in Malaysia, 6-in-10 have lost money, with the average financial loss per person equivalent to RM7,050 ($1700 USD). However, in comparison to other surveyed nations, the loss was much smaller than its neighboring countries.

According to Polis Diraja Malaysia (PDRM), there were 14,627 cases of online scams in 2015 where victims lost a total of RM1.09bil.

This has to stop and the best way to do this is by Education.

MCMC has worked on many Internet education programs designed for school children, however there probably aren’t any for adults, especially online.

How many times has MCMC (via the Telcos) sent out a SMS asking users not to believe in SMSes related to online gambling, click bait and other scams? It appears to me, that the scammers and criminals appears to have more budget than MCMC and the Telcos when it comes to SMS Blasting.

MCMC should campaign for Internet Education via its Facebook and its online channels. Education can be fun and made interesting. This can be done via contest, polls, forums, survey, among others. Consumers should also be rewarded for reporting an online crime. These initiatives could help stop the spreading of false news, online scams, among others. It would also help the public better understand the mobile services, example how to unsubscribe from a SMS service, etc.

Apart from these, the MCMC annual event called “KL Converge!” should and supposedly bring the industry together, including consumers for the purpose of education, collaboration in the digital space. But I don’t see this having any major impact on the public.

I hope to see MCMC become more transparent and relevant to consumers, and it should start now.

[Story Developing]

Disclaimer: This is a commentary, opinion based. MalaysianWireless should not be held responsible for any in-accurate information published in the article.

Kugan is the co-founder of MalaysianWireless. He has been observing the mobile industry since 2003. Connect with him on Twitter: @scamboy

Related Articles

Stay Connected with Us


Hosted at AIMS Data Centre


Latest Articles