Monday, March 16

Jalur Sempit IPTA Malaysia

More than three years ago in 2005, I raised my concern to the then Malaysian Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dato' Seri Dr. Jamaludin Jarjis during the Global Technopreneurship Forum event in Penang on how intolerable the state of Internet connection in Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) Status higher learning institutions including Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM). Consider that when universities in the United States were enjoying 10-MBps or better connection to dorm (hostel) rooms as early as ten years earlier, Malaysian universities in 2005 were having 100Kbps or slower connection to hi-tech labs. In fact, my 50Kbps mobile GPRS connection was at times better than connection to these RM-million equipped computer labs. At the same time, home users were able to subscribe to 1-Mbps (best effort) from providers like TM Net Sdn Bhd.

I was responding on how he should not focus too much of his effort on (less practical) WiMaX roll-out to jungles and villages and might get distracted off the more urgent task (RESPONSIBILITY) at hand, i.e. empower some 600,000 higher learning students with what they critically need, usable BROADBAND! Yang Berhormat's immediate reaction (and very bold if I may add) was that I should not question the rights of Malaysian natives (Orang Asli etc.), but instead should tolerate the fact that those university students (me included, since I was completing my postgraduate program at a local university) can at least have some taste of Internet no matter how horrible it was.

Fast forward 3+ years later, Malaysian broadband scenes still look hopeless, and WiMaX is practically nowhere to be found the country, except only recently starting from mostly Klang Valley (as usual, where many providers don't go further away, like Jaring's Broadband, TIME's Webbit etc.). Instead, people have come to realize that it's WiFi that most people need, including through recent better-late-than-never initiative (political campaign?) by the Penang State Government (although the actual implementation is still very much questionable - where is it??). Considering that Maxis & Celcom are among world's most ridiculous broadband providers offering hi-speed download of total data at just 3GB and 5GB per month respectively (enough for just ONE full day of active use, or just SEVEN days of 8-hour/day web surfing), compared to upcoming DiGi's & P1's at 50GB and more, most people would still have to rely to WiFis at Mamak outlets (private or government-supported via KTAK) at the cost of RM1/hour (electricity at most outlets) or less (just 'teh tarik' etc, and get their stomach bloated with sweetened milk and sugar causing 'kencing manis'). For some who don't mind 'behaving' while surfing, they can make use of hi-speed wifi at most KTAK myBroadband-powered libraries.

At the age of Web 3.0 (starting March 2009), when millions in developed countries of US, UK, Japan, Korea, Singapore etc. are enjoying up to 60MBps average broadband, millions of Malaysians especially those 100,000s of university students in campuses around the country are still crawling at speed well of under 1Mbps and frequent disconnections...

If you don't believe me, see the following rant (do disregard association with a Hitler portrayal - just for laughs!), creative production by a Malaysian Multimedia University (MMU) student - if MMU that's located at the epicenter of MSC, Cyberjaya is in trouble, don't dream elsewhere!:


Military official (looking distressed): This week, electricity supply has been interrupted twice (especially) at nights. Today, water supply is also experiencing interruption. The number of students who aren't taking morning showers are increasing.

Hitler: That's OK (looking unimpressed). What's important... has the internet problem been resolved?

Military official : Regarding that... (looking fearful). Internet...
Military official 2: Internet connectivity still experiencing troubles, and the speed... worse than usual.

Hitler (angered and disappointed, putting down his eyeglasses): Those who are staying... outside the hostels (off campus), please... leave the room now.... (MOST LEFT THE ROOM EXCEPT THREE SENIOR MILITARY OFFICIALS and two scared bodyguards)

What's all these!! Can't internet issue be resolved already? We've suffering for so long, and with the Internet speed continue to worsen and worsen! I totally did not expect this! (woman sobbing outside the room, being consoled by another woman). Why is Internet problem not resolved to date? (SHOUTING) Today, I was forced to use the Internet service that's obviously slower than my neighbor's turtle!

Military official (at fast pace): Sir, this internet (slowness) issue has been reported to CITS.

Hitler: I've send that (same) report way earlier! In fact, I've sent thousands of emails!!

MO: But (Sir), at least Internet can still be used for surfing.

Hitler: What surfing, if the Internet waves look slower like there's no wind! (THROWN PENCIL TO THE MAP ON DESK). It's disguisting, you know! All these while, I was able to enjoy playing online games, joining outside servers, mass-massacring people in Counter Strike! Look what happens now, ping results are extremely high! Even worse, when I was enjoying my Internet game, it keeps disconnecting! All my dream to become number one was gone... just like that! If I can do anything my heart desire, I'd strangle my roomate, and murder him! All the while, I was so proudful with Internet in MMU (Malaysian Multimedia University, a MSC-status institution/campus), which was different from home Internet... Now, it's like a long sweet dream, crashed! Disguisting! Not just that, I could die trying to download movies via torrent from outside! They keep blocking that download, and it's insanely slow! And don't get me started with Rapidshare... It takes over a dozen days just to download a single part! How can I be patient with such a a thing?

Woman Outside (CONSOLING ANOTHER WOMAN): It's ok. C'mon... we both stay off campus (outside the hostels), right?

Hitler: This is a very critical problem! Looks like I won't be able to play that Team Fortress 2 game that I've just purchased... It's been very unfortunate! Internet... slowness... If this continues, maybe it's time for me to leave the hostel, and reside in Cyberia (a nearby off-campus condominium). It's been an unfortunate day... (LOOKING DOWN)

I wonder what the KTAK ministers and staff are doing nowadays? Why are they not as vocal as former KTAK minister Tun Dr. Lim Kheng Yaik, against these incompetent national telcos?

Well, sometimes, when facing adversities and hardships, people can indeed be creative! Take the Oscar-awarded Slumdog Millionaire film for instance. Plus, I can absolutely, personally attest to this statement!


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