Thursday, February 2, 2023

Why is the Communications Minister complaining about Poor Telco Services? – Opinion

On Tuesday, Communications and Multimedia Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa (picture) said it was not impressive for telecommunications service providers or telecommunications companies (telcos) to record a profit of RM1 billion, but still provided unsatisfactory services to the people, according to media reports.


“The infrastructure is provided by the government, TM (Telekom Malaysia Bhd) and others, but the last mile is provided by the telcos depending on the equipment they install at the towers … but for the telcos, they have their priority. If there are many customers in one area, they will concentrate on that particular area, [while] elsewhere the equipment is not upgraded.

“This is why the 4G Internet [speed] can be 10 Mbps to 100 Mbps depending on the ‘last-mile’ hardware provided by the telcos. As such, I call on our telcos to go hand in hand [with the government] to provide the best service for the people,” he added.

“There are places with 10 Mbps, 12 Mbps and about 20 Mbps, while our minimum quality for 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) must be 35 Mbps … if we want to reach that level, the populated areas much reach 60, 70, 100 Mbps because when there are many people, the speed drops.

“4G is just a technology that allows it (a telco) to provide higher [Internet] capabilities, but how high [it] will [be] depends on the infrastructure and hardware provided,” he added.

But why is the Minister complaining about this publicly?

Here are two quick fun facts:

1. The Communications regulator, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) have said in March 2022 that the Telcos have “consistently delivered and exceeded on its key targets” for JENDELA, the Government’s action plan to improve the digital infrastructure of the country. This includes improved fixed and mobile coverage across the country. [PDF]

2. MCMC also said that the average mobile broadband speeds was at 37.30Mbps as of December 2021, meanwhile 4G coverage in populated areas had reached an excellent percentage of 95.4% as of 31 December 2021. (Note: #SyokSendiri)

It makes me wonder on why would the Minister talk about poor Telco services publicly when he and his Ministry are the solution to the problems?

As the Communications and Multimedia Minister, among his powers include:

1. Cancelling the 4G spectrum that has been awarded, including the spectrum awarded to Altel and Redtone as these companies failed to deploy their own 4G networks all these years. Instead, the same Minister who is complaining right now renewed those spectrum (“Arahan Menteri”) just recently on 9 December 2021 [PDF], allowing these companies to continue reselling the spectrum for the next 5 years.

2. Penalise the Telcos for poor 4G coverage and services. As the Communications Minister, he could order a full nationwide coverage and service quality assessment. Based on the assessment report, MCMC could issue repeated compounds until these network problems are resolved. In summary, the Ministry sets the license condition of the spectrum/frequency awarded to the Telcos.

3. Improve [email protected], the consumer complaints platform. Many complaints made to MCMC are poorly handled and not properly resolved. Every complaints should be looked into by MCMC/CFM and the Telcos should be automatically penalised for valid unresolved complaints. Why can’t the Ministry and MCMC get this simple thing right?

If the Communications Minister is still not “impressed” with the 10Mbps speeds, he can make a complaint via and go through the same painful process that we consumers go through for the past few decades.

I believe if every Ministers in Malaysia are forced to use the services that their Ministry provides, our public services would improve dramatically.

Disclaimer: This is an opinion of the writer and does not represent the view of MalaysianWireless.

Kugan has got strong 5G signal at home but he is not getting the minimum 100Mbps speeds most of the time. The Government-controlled 5G service is unstable and there are many intermittent disconnection with latency as high as 50ms. He understood now that most promises on 5G services are fake and does not benefit consumers at the time of writing.

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

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