Big boost for high-speed broadband coverage in Malaysia

Big boost for high-speed broadband coverage in Malaysia

The effort to increase high-speed broadband (HSBB) Internet coverage throughout the country has received a major boost under Budget 2015.

HSBB will continue to be introduced in areas of high economic impact, covering state capitals and selected major towns nationwide.

In addition, a sum of RM2.7 billion (S$1.1 billion) will be spent over the next three years to build 1,000 new telecommunication towers and lay undersea cables, all with a view to increasing the national broadband capacity.

DiGi Telecommunications chief executive officer Lars Norling said the handsome allocation would contribute towards the target of achieving a 75 per cent household broadband penetration rate by the end of 2015.

As of the first quarter of 2014, the rate was 67.3 per cent, according to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).

Pikom, the national ICT association of Malaysia, is also pleased with the announcement but remained concerned with broadband subscription costs.

Its chairman Cheah Kok Hoong said Budget 2015 did not sufficiently address the issue of broadband ser­vice charges, which was still deemed high compared to that of the neighbouring countries.

Most Malaysians were also hoping for the Government to bring back the tax relief of RM500 per annum for fixed broadband subscription, which they enjoyed from 2010 to 2012.

IT entrepreneur Ray Teng said: "Broadband fees in Malaysia are certainly not cheap and the tax relief would have helped us cope with the rising cost of living."

Under Budget 2015, the Digital Content Industry Fund under MCMC with an allocation of RM100 million has been set up to help develop creative industries, specifically in areas of animation, filming, designing and cultural heritage.

Budget 2015 also aims to attract more expatriate entrepreneurs to establish start-up companies by setting the paid-up capital for them at RM75,000 and giving the entrepreneurs a one-year work pass.

Les Copaque Production Sdn Bhd managing director Burhanuddin Md Radzi welcomed the move but said the success of the Digital Content Industry Fund would depend on how the money would be distri­buted.

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