Focus View
Quality of service counts, not historical growth
FocusM team | 09 Feb 2018 00:30
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nancy Shukri recently highlighted the rise in the number of internet users in the country. 

She noted that Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) data reveals that the number of Malaysians on the internet has grown to 24.5 million last year from a low of 2.5 million in 2006. 

This represents an extraordinary 800% growth over the past 11 years. A high internet penetration rate is obviously a pre-requisite to help ensure we join the ranks of developed nations.

However, statistics can sometimes put us off from focusing on what is really important. In this case, what the authorities should really be addressing, instead of looking at feel-good historical figures, is the uneven quality and high cost of internet services. 

Whilst penetration may be almost 100%, what is the average internet speed here compared to that of other developing and developed countries? 

Akamai Technologies, Inc’s First Quarter 2017 State of the Internet report places Malaysia’s average internet connection speed lower than countries like Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

Despite the impressive growth rate in past years, do the authorities realise that the number of internet users in the country has started to decline? Based on MCMC’s own Internet Users Survey 2017 report published last November, the percentage of internet users fell to 76.9% from 77.6% about a year earlier. 

About 30% of the non-internet users cite the high cost of internet services and having no internet access as among the main reasons for not going online. Two years earlier, only about 15% of non-internet users quoted these two reasons. If Malaysia’s internet speed were to increase, that may likely be reciprocated with a hike in rates, which may increase the number of non-users.

Poor internet services have detrimental impact on the economy, especially the booming e-commerce sector which is a growth catalyst for most sectors, especially retail. 

Instead of highlighting just how fast we have grown in terms of internet penetraton, the authorities must ensure internet services are significantly faster and cheaper.