The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the importance of technology as a critical lifeline for communities during various movement restrictions to contain the disease, which accelerated people’s reliance on internet services. And with the emergence of new norms such as working from home, online meetings and various online transactions, public demand for digital infrastructure grew, leading to the substitution of mobile broadband from fixed broadband.
As the regulator for the communications sector, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) is tasked with moving the country forward on the path to digital transformation, supporting Malaysia’s aspiration to become a high-income and digital nation. Accelerating the deployment of a robust network and preparing the nation for the transition to the digital economy became the MCMC’s top priority.
Moreover, protecting customers has always been a priority for the commission, with great emphasis on excellent customer service. The regulator also monitors and analyses the compliance of licensees in the telecommunications sector to ensure consumer protection under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 and the General Consumer Code of Practice.
“Digital infrastructure and courier services are critical to creating a viable ecosystem for the digital economy, and MCMC accelerated Malaysia’s detailed action plans known as National Digital Network (Jalinan Digital Negara, or Jendela) and National Courier Accelerator Plan (Pakej) to drive the industry forward in these areas.
“Jendela and Pakej focus on bridging the digital divide and amplifying digital transformation to enable all Malaysians — regardless of location or social status — to embrace new norms and provide a fair chance for all to ride the wave of new opportunities as the nation marches further into the digital economy,” says the MCMC.
In providing wider coverage and better broadband quality as the country transitions to 5G technology, the MCMC is implementing Jendela in stages: phase one (2020 to 2022) and phase two (2022 to 2025).
“A total of 7.027 million households now have access to fibre broadband and 95.7% of populated areas have access to the 4G network, despite challenges such as geographical conditions. Meanwhile, the average mobile broadband speed has also increased to 40.13 Mbps (megabits per second), surpassing the original first phase target of 35 Mbps,” the MCMC notes.
The commission has also noticed a significant drop in complaints about poor internet connections with the introduction of Jendela, as it received 23,803 network-related complaints in the first quarter of 2022 (1Q2022), down 56% from 1Q2021.
Meanwhile, Pakej is a five-year strategic roadmap that is set to deliver quality of service and seamless coverage to support the e-commerce industry’s hopes to double the parcels per capita to 30 by 2025.
“It aims to provide users with greater coverage, access and flexibility; improve the quality of service to enable a seamless customer experience; and support the e-commerce industry’s projected growth from 14 to 30 parcels per capita by 2025.
“The initial rollout of Pakej will focus on establishing a comprehensive parcel point network with more pick-up and drop-off points through a working group involving the courier licensees, local councils and local authorities,” the MCMC says.
In addition to expanding coverage, the rakyat are being offered various forms of support such as training, counselling and subsidies, according to the commission. These efforts particularly target the bottom 40% of income earners (B40) and the rural population to ensure inclusive growth in line with the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP).
The Malaysian Family Digital Economy Centres (PEDi) serve as a digital catalyst in surrounding communities by providing services and support such as basic computer skills needed by the local community to become tech-savvy.
Currently, there are 911 PEDi nationwide, with another 173 PEDi in operation by 2023, says the MCMC. Behind the expansion of PEDi is the Small Entrepreneur Digitisation Empowerment Programme (Pupuk) which provides interested digital entrepreneurs with various training programmes, introductory events and microfinancing to accelerate the launch of businesses.
Led by the MCMC, Pupuk aims to introduce digitalisation to the business community, which will ultimately speed up cashless transactions, thus expanding its customer base. A total of 800,000 micro-entrepreneurs are expected to benefit by 2025.
Other initiatives carried out by MCMC
The MCMC also launched Klik Dengan Bijak (KDB) in 2012, an awareness programme that promotes positive use of the Internet with three main aspects of safety, security, and responsibility. Since its inception, the KDB initiative has reached more than six million people and gained over 85,000 followers on social media platforms.
In addition, the Malaysia ICT Volunteer programme (MIV) is a platform that the MCMC has been running since 2016 to improve the digital literacy of Malaysians.
“A total of 3,508 volunteers from different age groups and backgrounds have been successfully recruited. For the MIV with Schools programmes, teachers in primary and secondary schools were recruited as volunteers in collaboration with the Ministry of Education to promote a culture of positive, safe and responsible use of the Internet among students. For the MIV with the Community programmes, volunteers teach their local community to verify and authenticate the information they receive before sharing it,” says the MCMC.
While the internet has changed the world for the better in many ways, technological advances have also led to increasingly sophisticated types of fraud. Over the years, one of the main issues has been the level of intricacy and agility now seen in vishing (voice phishing) and smishing (SMS phishing) activities, where telecommunications services are misused for fraudulent purposes. It is also worrying that vulnerable consumers, especially pensioners, are most at risk of being scammed, the MCMC stresses.
The commission advocates the use of the Sebenarnya.my portal as a one-stop centre for the public to review and channel information about unverified messages received online.
The portal, which plays an important role in verifying news and information received by the public, works with all government agencies and government-related companies to provide immediate feedback on news reviews.
Beyond the portal, the MCMC has been working with telecommunications service providers and the Commercial Crime Investigation Department of the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) to form a telecommunications fraud industry task force to address problems with scam call issues.
As of December 2021, the PDRM has opened a total of 324 investigations, 50 of which have led to the parties involved being charged in court. Enforcement action may be taken under the provisions of s 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 or Section 505 of the Penal Code.
“An industry reference was developed to further strengthen this exercise by implementing additional blocking rules to reduce potential fraud calls reaching consumers, effective January 2020. Through joint ventures with the telecommunications service providers, a total of 1.6 billion suspicious calls have been successfully blocked from reaching consumers,” the MCMC shares.
MEDi will be next focus
To increase the income of the Malaysian family and to empower them to become digital entrepreneurs, the government is developing the Digital Economy Landmark (MEDi), a one-stop centre that offers various digital technology facilities to further expand their digital business acumen.
The establishment of MEDi focuses on three key areas: accessibility and access to infrastructure for the local community, including people with disabilities; high-speed internet connections of up to 500 Mbps; and digital lifestyle, such as providing infrastructure and digital services for use by the community.
“For the local community, there will be entrepreneurship training as well as exposure to IR 4.0, VR/AR and holograms. Training programmes for this digital exposure will also be provided for interested individuals.
“In fact, MEDi is envisioned to be a one-stop centre and platform for the community and industry as well as local authorities to offer various services, including land and utilities-related matters,” says the regulator.
Ultimately, these government efforts are aimed at fostering a digital lifestyle in line with national aspirations to strengthen Malaysia’s digital economy.