Sunday, December 16

Which 'city' is the BROADBAND CAPITAL of Malaysia?

If you've guessed Cyberjaya being it is the first and foremost zone for Malaysia's Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) project, or Kuala Lumpur being it is the largest city (and capital city of) in Malaysia [note: Putrajaya is the administrative capital city of Malaysia], you're a bit off by well over 300 kilometres!

The answer is Penang (or its "cities")!

As you might have known, since 2005, several zones in Penang Island and Seberang Perai had been gazetted as Penang Cyber Cities (PCC) by the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDEC), as the first of its kind outside of Klang Valley (CyberJaya, KLCC, Technology Park etc).... [And I get to brag about it being my home town as well as my birth origin!]

Surprisingly though because neither Pulau Pinang (Penang Island) nor any of the towns in this world-famous travel destination are officially a "city" by administration or municipal governance, i.e. managed/maintained by Municipal Council of Pulau Pinang (MPPP) instead of a city council ("Majlis Bandaraya" in Malay language).

On the other hand, "Georgetown" or "Tanjung" as the capital of Penang is affectionately known for by the locals not to long ago had also been occassionally called "Bandaraya" (literally meaning "city") as showcased on several road signs, names of structures etc. (e.g. "Stadium Bandaraya"). In fact, Georgetown had been a city for a few decades since before Merdeka until around the 70s, when MPPP and MPSP (for Seberang Perai/Province Wellesley) were established by the state government for the task of municipal development. Such names and road signs had though continued to stay around until early 2000s when they were starting to be changed to "Georgetown" instead of "Pulau Pinang" or "Bandaraya", for instance, on road directional signs near the Penang Bridge.

Skipping the name sakes or "city vs. town status" for Penang, let's see what revealed in its latest broadband speed results:-

From the chart above, Penang clearly leads way ahead in terms of average Internet download speed at nearly 3-MBps -- more than double what average users in Selangor and Wilayah Persekutuan (WP) are getting. Surprising eh? Not so... After all, despite the number of broadband users leading in Selangor (home of Cyberjaya town and the cities of Shah Alam and Petaling Jaya) and WP Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, there are more large multinational manufacturing companies in Penang, exceeding 200 in the towns of Bayan Lepas, Batu Maung and Prai etc. There are also many more high rises (buildings with ten or more floors) in Penang than in Kuala Lumpur etc, making Penang a top-25 "city" vs. KL ~ top-80 in the world in terms of the number of high rises. Such availability of high rises has made Penang a perfect candidate for fiber optic-backed wireless service which companies like PenangFon (subsidiary of MetroFon) had starting to take advantage of over the past couple years for instance.

Again, from chart above, a "cities" comparison shows that Penang towns dominate 60% of the top-10 ranking for Internet downstream speed in Malaysia, including for #1 until #5. Likewise, Penang also dominate the average upstream speed for its users similar to the downstream pattern.

Not just that, a Penang-based company/connectivity also ranks #1 in Asia, ahead of providers in Japan for instance. However, as I've noted in my previous blog during my brief visit to Tokyo, Japan clearly leads in average Internet connectivity speed surpassing 11Mbps, more than twice Internet users are getting in Singapore, the second fastest country in Asia in terms of Internet connectivity, with Hong Kong and Korea trailing closely behind -- All top-10 regions in Asia in terms of Internet speed are also in Japan (which is also fastest country in the world in terms of Internet connectivity speed, far ahead at more than twice the download speed compared to Singapore, France, Germany and the US at the bottom four in the top-10 global rank)!

Oh well, back to reality in Malaysia, it seems that it's not bad after all to be stucked in Penang all these years instead of following the steps of many who have migrated to Klang Valley in pursuit of better things that MSC is supposed to offer. However, as I've neither live in a high-rise nor in a city-like town (eg. Bayan Lepas, Gelugor, Georgetown etc.) any longer, I still have to settle with a ~1-Mbps downstream connectivity that TM Streamyx is offering at present.

It's worth to note that except for Penang which has superb fiber-optic choices, particularly for use by those big MNCs, Klang Valley and other areas of Malaysia are depending on DSL (mostly by TM, largest Government-Linked Telco), mobile broadband (200Kbps - 3.6Mbps for GPRS Edge or 3G-3.5G/HSDPA), iBurst (eg. Izzi etc), WiMAX etc.

At present, I still haven't migrated to 3.5G since I still haven't had the time to visit Celcom or Maxis to get them to bring me HSDPA in Balik Pulau without me having to ditch my cool DiGi vanity phone number (that phonetically spells both my name and commercial company brand!) -- still am waiting for the Number Portability scheme to reach the mobile scenes in Malaysia. And Streamyx at RM98/month (including the ridiculous service cut double penalty - only by TM, the monopolistic Telco of Malaysia.) is all I got besides the decent DiGi Edge that charges me as much as RM149/month -- Worse if compared to regions in North America, Europe, East Asia Pacific and Australasia, but not too bad if compared to elsewhere including South America and Africa.

This ends my sporadic spur of the moment rambling (and usual critiques) on the state of broadband in Malaysia.

I know, I know, I still owe you guys my good readers, comprehensive coverages from my back-to-back full week of ICT-centric social networking and learning experience through the events of Sifoo-Microsoft, PIKOM PC Fair (both in Penang and KLCC), ICT for Development (i4D) Film Festival, World Electronic Media Forum (WEMF3), Global Knowledge Partnership (GKP) Event on the Future (GK3), MiRC Penang ICT Week (including the Arabian Night at Tanjung Bungah Beach Hotel), ICT Penang Meet @ DPMMPP etc. But I still have more networking to go thru during remaining of this week including TechBiz Penang meet @ PSDC, and miscellaneous MiRC Penang ICT Week events on Monday and Tuesday -- It seems that I had so little time to write when having to meet so many people from all corners of the world (I must have shaken hands and/or exchanged smiles/name cards with over 100 individuals from 50+ different nations, from students/young social entrepreneurs up to ministers of respective countries in the course of a single week), starting with conferences every early morning to gala dinners every evening. But, am anxiously waiting for Eid and Xmas 5-day holiday during which I'll hopefully have more time to write: blogs, business plans, company financial accounts etc. (unless of course if I were to take another vacation away from home).

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