KUALA LUMPUR, March 22 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will launch on Wednesday the National Broadband Initiative and High Speed Broadband (HSBB) that aim to drive the social and economic transformation towards achieving the high-income nation objective.
During the launch at Dataran Merdeka here, Najib is expected to make several important announcements related to the progress of the HSBB and extension of broadband services to rural areas, including those in Sabah and Sarawak.
In the run-up to the launch, Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim had said that the NBI would also help the country to become more competitive through innovation, creativity and improved flow of information.
As part of government's move to further enhance the usage of broadband among the "rakyat", Najib had announced during his 2010 Budget presentation last October that tax relief would be provided for broadband subscription fees up to RM500 a year from 2010 to 2012 while civil servants could apply for computer loans once in three years from five years previously up to a maximum of RM5,000.
In line with efforts to further improve the education system, Budget 2010 also provided for PC Netbook packages with broadband capability to ensure easy accessibility to such tools for about 100,000 students in higher learning institutions.
According to Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) group chief executive officer Datuk Zamzamzairani Mohd Isa, it has so far spent about RM1.9 billion and the government about RM990 million in rolling out the HSBB.
The RM11.3 billion project is a public-private partnership initiative between TM and the government to develop next generation HSBB infrastructure and services for the nation.
TM is putting up RM8.9 billion while the government is contributing RM2.4 billion on an incurred claims basis based on project milestones reached by TM.
The HSBB retail offering will comprise the triple-play services of voice, video (IPTV and video-on-demand), and high-speed Internet starting from speeds of 10 megabits per second (Mbps) and upwards.
The initial four areas that will be covered by the TM HSBB services, at the time of service launch, are Shah Alam, Subang Jaya, Taman Tun Dr Ismail and Bangsar.
As of March 3, 2010, the household penetration rate stood at 33.2 per cent and the government is targeting 50 per cent broadband penetration by year-end.
The government and private sector are combining their efforts to boost broadband penetration as well as tackling obstacles in achieving the 50 per cent target.
The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) said the main challenge was to educate folks in the suburban, rural or remote areas on the benefits of being connected to the online world.
"The public should be aware that the situation today is very much like that faced by the mobile phone industry in its early days," said its director of the MyICMS Directorate, Nor Akmar Shah Minan.
"Today, everyone, including someone in the remotest area, will understand how much difference a mobile phone can make to their lives but in the early days, most people were reluctant to take up phones," she said.
Nor Akmar wrote in the commission's ".my convergence" magazine that though service providers should service less profitable areas, they did not want to venture into these areas as the demand did not justify building expensive infrastructure. (By Mohd Noor Firdaus Mohd Azil/ Bernama)