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Internet infra development opens new doors

High-speed internet at cheaper prices will bring change to many sectors, say industry players

Businesses can leverage such connectivity to tap into new opportunities

Malaysia’s internet space is seeing some exciting developments of late, which will possibly change the entire industry and create new opportunities that more local businesses can tap into.

“For us entrepreneurs, especially those in the internet space, we [have to] consider what can happen next, as well as the opportunities and businesses we can go into,” opines Aglotel Wireless Solutions Sdn Bhd CEO Joshua Chan.

There has been some reduction in the pricing of broadband access over the years. But all that may change soon if Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo has his way. In May, he announced his intention to ensure that the people can enjoy double the internet speed at half the price.

This was followed by the June 8 implementation of mandatory standard on access pricing (MSAP) proposed by the Malaysian Communications Multimedia Commission, which could reduce broadband prices by at least 25% by year-end.

Since then, Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) has launched an affordable 30 MB/second UniFi plan for RM79 per month specifically for the Bottom 40% household income segment. It also stated it would introduce three upgrade plans to increase internet speed by up to 10 times for existing customers.

TM had, however, recently appealed to the government to delay and revise the MSAP, which affects wholesale broadband prices and would in turn see a fall in retail prices.

Apart from that, the biggest issues when it comes to internet access in the country are still the availability and quality of broadband. Despite this, there is still good news for local businesses and citizens.

The government also announced that TM’s telecomunication ducts may soon be opened to other telecommunication companies. If this happens, then TM’s competitors will be able to run fibre-optic cables alongside TM’s existing carriageway to improve connectivity nationwide.

This would also break TM’s monopoly on the fibre market and bring in more competition and players.

Coupled with the possibility of Tenaga Nasional Bhd opening up its fibre-optic network as well as ducts and poles to telcos, the move could create more competition in the industry that would ideally lead to cheaper and faster internet access for more people as well as better service.

In addition, Gobind recently revealed that the ministry is working to propose a Bill to make internet installation mandatory in new housing projects, which will see internet access categorised as a utility like electricity and water.

Opening up opportunities

These developments to make available high-speed internet more cheaply are positive signs for local businesses, especially when it comes to sectors such as entertainment, digital construction, Industry 4.0, smart cities and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Entertainment companies will be able to utilise the internet to move from high definition to ultra high definition 4K, one of the latest in viewing technology that renders sharper images with more vivid colours.

Already, big players such as Astro have announced the introduction of the UHD 4K service by November or December.

Chan says: “With high-speed internet, imagine the amount of entertainment we can get, which will change the whole industry,”

Industry 4.0 and IoT, which also leverage on internet connectivity, would also address labour shortages and add value to businesses.

A factory that has good internet connectivity on the manufacturing floor, for instance, could invest in automation and robotics in the form of automated guided vehicles. Not only would such automation transform it into a smart factory, it would also improve output and maximise resources as well.

As for IoT, businesses in the hotel industry could make use of robotic butlers to deliver service, which also requires internet connectivity.

“IoT is definitely growing and with faster internet speed and cheaper broadband rates, it’ll definitely drive the industry faster,” Chan adds.

Levelling the playing field

The adoption of such new technology is extremely beneficial for SMEs, in terms of enabling them to explore new potential businesses and customer segments.

Being an SME can be a blessing in disguise as smaller companies are more agile when it comes to implementing change and could even help them attract better talent, Chan suggests.

He says: “Unlike multinational corporations, SMEs can try it out first to see if it’s beneficial for the business and can help them to grow and tap into new customer segments. That part of it, which allows SMEs to try something new, can also help them attract good talent.

“The new generation of talents place a lot of importance on the opportunity to explore their potential and maximise their talents. It’s what they want to do.”

Furthermore, he says that once government initiatives have brought about more reduction in broadband price and a speed boost, it would actually be much easier for SMEs to adopt new technologies due to lower costs.

Productivity can be further improved, as smaller companies would be able to leverage on the internet to conduct high definition video conferencing with clients, for example.

High-speed internet would also mean that these businesses can create and disseminate marketing materials more easily and at cheaper rates, in order to help them become more competitive and build up brand and image.

But to do so, Altai Technologies Ltd business development vice-president Ken Leung says education on technology is important as not many SMEs will reach out on current market offerings.

“When you talk about WiFi, it’s so common that a home router can be placed in the office or at the manufacturing plant, but when there’s an issue, they don’t know who to look for.

“Regardless of the size and industry you’re in, it’s important to understand that WiFi networks work as an enabler for many different applications or even reduces costs for the company, which enables SMEs to stay competitive,” he says.

Altai Technologies is a partner for Aglotel Wireless Solutions providing Super WiFi solutions, making it possible for a WiFi network to cover an area as far as 1km. Typical WiFi, on the other hand, can only reach from 20 to 40m.

Maximising resources

It can clearly be seen that today’s businesses require internet access to remain competitive and tap into new business opportunities, but Chan says problems crop up when companies – especially smaller ones – leverage on internet technology despite a lack of domain expertise and knowledge.

He shares: “A key criteria for designing a successful WiFi [network] is good coverage. Obstruction will reduce coverage.”

Secondly, high capacity is required for content with high definition and quality, especially when it comes to companies that focus on entertainment as a service.

Chan also stresses the importance for companies to better manage their WiFi networks, which could be as simple as looking into aggregated data on users and point of connection and configuring the right fit, in terms of speed limitations and cybersecurity concerns.

“Finally, you need to look at who deploys the WiFi. You need a strong team to support that deployment since it affects whether you can or cannot deploy those applications ultimately,” he notes.

He adds that Aglotel Wireless Solutions and Altai Technologies would be a solid choice to deploy the latter’s Super WiFi solutions.

SMEs form some 60% of Aglotel Wireless Solutions’ customer base in terms of volume, but not in revenue contribution.

Chan concludes: “I have a dream and a vision that with wireless technology, there will be a day when people will be able to connect and communicate faster and easier, anytime and anywhere.

“With IoT, I believe that vision will come true even sooner.”

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