Friday, June 25

East M’sia’s mobile internet usage highest in the country

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Mobile internet usage in Sarawak and Sabah are among the highest in the country, with data consumption having more than doubled last year in the East Malaysian region, Maxis’ Bangsgaard revealed.

KUCHING: Mobile internet usage in Sarawak and Sabah are among the highest in the country, Maxis Bhd (Maxis) says, with data consumption having more than doubled last year in the East Malaysian region.

“The demand for internet continues to grow at a phenomenal rate. It growing all over the country but the growth rate has been even higher in both Sabah and Sarawak.

“The average usage for our customers is also higher for both Sabah and Sarawak, now,” said chief technology officer Morten Bangsgaard.

Maxis’ third quarter of 2018 (3Q18) results revealed that nationwide, data consumption continued to increase with blended data usage almost doubling from a monthly average of 5.6 gigabytes (GB) a year ago to
10.7GB.

In Sarawak alone, the state’s data consumption amounted to 12.3GB while in Sabah, it was at 11.1GB.

“If you compare to many European countries, they are somewhere around one to two GB per customer. With the exceptions of Finland, Korea, Japan and so on.

“Looking at it from a global perspective, Sabah and Sarawak’s mobile internet usage is actually one of the highest in the world.”

On his thoughts on why the high data consumption rate here, Bangsgaard opined the lack of fixed internet penetration here may be one of the factors.

“We are hoping, together with Sacofa Sdn Bhd (Sacofa), to start changing that,” he added.

To recap, Maxis and Sacofa had recently entered into a partnership with the signing of a Letter of Understanding (LoU) for the latter to offer High Speed Broadband (HSBB) Network Services to the telecommunication company.

Under the LoU, Maxis will have full access to Sacofa’s HSBB Network Services in Sarawak that will enable the telco company to offer its already available fibre plans to even more homes and businesses here.

He also pointed out that lot of Malaysians uses mobile internet, as opposed to a personal computer (PC) or a fixed connection.

“I think this is something ingrained in everyone, that this is the primary way of accessing the internet and a lot of things we do now, everything is adapted to the screen size and so on.”

Bangsgaard revealed that Maxis is now in the process of talking to various parties and is hoping to start offering the fixed broadband to more places.

“The new regulations are very welcoming as we have started to see a healthy competition in the fixed broadband (segment).

“We have for many years (been) in the mobile area. We have somewhere between three and six players offering mobile and the consequence we have seen in the drop in the data prices, probably affected them over the last few years.

“We welcome the competition also in the fixed line (segment), I think it’s good for everyone, it’s also very good for the country.”

Over the last couple of years, Maxis has continued to invest heavily in its 4G network in East Malaysia, adding 4G to more than 500 places and sites, together in Sabah and Sarawak.

“We are planning to continue to expand our network… Of course, there’s new areas being built around the country, so that’s one thing we need to keep up with.

“The other is purely building to cater to the demand. We have thousands of upgrades across Malaysia every single year just to keep up with this demand.

“One thing we are also doing – been doing for many years now – is that we are working together with Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), the regulator, to build in more rural areas where the traditional operators typically would find it hard to justify the investments in.

“We are cooperating with MCMC and that’s also a way we will continue to invest in our 4G network.”

Maxis’s network is currently covering around 45 towns in Sarawak, with the highest population coverage for 4G in Kuching, where the telco is hitting 98 per cent.

On more populated cities, such as Miri, Sibu and Bintulu, population coverage is at around 90 to 95 per cent.

“There’s still a bit of room to grow for us, but the numbers are (also) high,” he said. “We have around 41 other key towns and there, we will also continue to expand our coverage.

On Sabah, Bangsgaard noted that Kota Kinabalu’s population coverage is similar to that of Kuching, as it is at around 98 per cent.

“The other key towns are also similar, around 90 to 95 per cent. We have around 30 towns with 4G. The plan again is to continue to put up more coverage in this area to increase the population coverage,” he concluded.