Malaysia held up as NBN king

Malaysia held up as NBN king

Summary: Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull used Malaysia as an example of how Australia should be treating broadband in a speech yesterday, after Informa Telecoms and Media (T&M) released statistics showing that Malaysia's roll-out is trumping others in the region.

TOPICS: Broadband, NBN

Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull used Malaysia as an example of how Australia should be treating broadband in a speech yesterday, after Informa Telecoms and Media (T&M) released statistics showing that Malaysia's roll-out is trumping others in the region.

Turnbull used his speech at the Broadband World Forum in Malaysia to examine Malaysia's policy, which has its government paying 30 per cent of the fibre roll-out. It is being headed by the incumbent telco player Telekom Malaysia, and will reach 20 per cent of Malaysian homes.

Turnbull pointed to the fact that despite Telekom's government support, other broadband players could still compete by entering the market, and that the country would be served by a variety of technologies, including DSL and wireless.

Informa T&M this week said its figures showed that the Malaysian network is "comfortably outpacing" other national broadband networks being deployed in the region, including Australia's.

According to Informa T&M, the joint venture between Telekom Malaysia and the government had 310,000 subscribers by the end of April and had passed over 1.2 million premises in the country. The expectation is that it will be finished on time and within cost, which is spawning interest in extending the network's reach.

In comparison, Informa T&M said Singapore has 130,000 subscribers, while Australia has 7000 and New Zealand only has 500.

"There is no doubt that Malaysia's decision to stick with the incumbent Telekom Malaysia, in deploying its next-generation broadband networks, is definitely bearing fruit at the moment," said Tony Brown, senior analyst at Informa T&Media.

"The other NBN markets in the region have deployed more complex NBN models, with new and independent entities created to build and operate their NBN networks — and that has taken a lot of time and created some significant teething problems, especially in Australia."

Turnbull agreed with Informa T&M's sentiment in his speech, bemoaning what he considers the staunching of competition by using cherry-picking laws, which prevent competitors from rolling out their own networks unless they are ready to wholesale a layer-two bitstream service. He is convinced that the prices will have to rise substantially in order for the government to recoup its investment; he also drew attention to the time it has taken the NBN Co to roll out to the premises it has.

The signing of the deal that will enable NBN Co to use Telstra's ducts, and the transfer of Telstra customers onto the NBN when the copper is decommissioned, took much longer than expected, delaying the roll-out. However, a three-year plan has recently been released, which will see the NBN roll-out speed ramped up.

"On current forecasts, the NBN is scheduled to be completed by December 2020, although we know the project is well behind schedule. By the end of next month, the NBN was forecast to have passed 152,000 houses with its fibre, but as of the end of March, only 18,200 premises had been passed with fibre. It doesn't compare well to Malaysia's HSBB roll-out, which was initiated around the same time as the NBN and is on track to have 1.3 million premises in its footprint by the end of the year," he said.

He urged people to consider the NBN debate — not as a technical debate, but rather in terms of outcome; what the country needs to do to provide super fast broadband.

In a technological-purist sense, the answer would be fibre; in an economic sense, he believes the technology would have to vary, as in Malaysia.

The Coalition has promised to do a cost-benefit analysis of the NBN when it gets into office, to see what parts of the project makes sense to continue with, but ideally the party would like to roll back the Telstra and Optus agreements and the cherry-picking laws, so that it can encourage broadband competition. It would also subsidise broadband in regional areas, instead of having a cross subsidy as with the NBN, and encourage a technology agnostic roll-out of fast broadband.

"We will meet those targets with a gradual approach, based on a mix of technologies. Whether it's fibre to the home, fibre to the cabinet, next generation mobile solutions, or, of course, upgraded cable; they all have their part to play. We need a complementary combination of solutions, introduced incrementally, and tailored to local needs," he said in Malaysia.

Yet, critics have said in the past that the basket case that the Australian telco industry has developed into, in the years after Telstra became private, can only be remedied with an NBN, enabling equal access to any provider, and, further, some say that fibre is future-proofing Australia.

Informa T&M's Brown did say that the Malaysian government's decision to not create an independent wholesale network access operator, as Australia has, could be negative in the long term.

Topics: Broadband, NBN

Suzanne Tindal

About Suzanne Tindal

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for the site.

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  • Turnbull's coalition constantly shifting positions are becoming daily more bizzare at the last election it was "fibre ain't needed at all because wireless can do it all with magical yet to be invented technology and towers on every corner" then Turnbull finding nobody believed that wireless was a workable proposition and no company could provide the technology for the coalitions position then came forth with new proposals based on ditching the previous policy that fibre wasn't needed to the new "fibre to the node is the cheapest technology to get broadband and that's our policy" now the policy moves on to the newest phase that "Fibre to the home is a great idea and we will give Telstra and posibly other Telcos like iiNet and Optus a big big sack of money to do it whist ensuring that there is competition". What's the next move? NBN to be the sole provider of fibre to the home with ownership transfered to a Telco owned by Mr Tunbull and Mr Aboot.
    Kevin Cobley
    • Kevin your childish intentional misspelling of a persons name, or worse, through ignorance does your argument no good.
  • If the coalition plans on subsidising the regional areas then it would have to do this forever. At least on the NBN the government will eventually regain a profit.
  • Interesting that Turnbull chose to ignore what Informa senior analyst Tony Brown said was the reason for the sped up rollout, which will also be the network's biggest problem in the longer term.

    Brown said that "Malaysia's decision to stick with the incumbent, Telekom Malaysia" (ie. their Telstra) was the reason for the quicker rollout compared to Australia's decision to go with an "independent wholesale network", but that the lack of an "independent wholesale network access operator, as is being done in Australia, could be a negative in the longer term".

    Turnbull cherry picking reports just like Telstra will cherry pick which areas to install next-gen broadband if the Coalition gets their way.
    • Exactly! Talk about your monopoly provider. That's what the Malaysian solution is - one network to rule them all, one company to provide all retail services.

      Just like Telstra's vision of the future - give it all to us, and we'll build you a fibre network, pronto. Oh, except that it will be on our terms, in locations that we see as profitable, and sold at prices that suit our profit margin. Don't like it? Go elsewhere! Oh that's right, you CAN'T!

      The greatest cause of any and all delays getting the NBN rollout moving since 2009 has been the need to completely revamp competition and all the underlying legislation, agreements and contracts to bring about an absolute revolution in the telco market, including full structural separation. Let's just get that straight before any comparisons with Malaysia. If all we had done was let Telstra do it all, there would have been no need for all this fairness, openness and competition. Who needs that stuff?

      After all, as some are fond of pointing out, Telstra built the network! It's theirs! It would be wrong to penalise them for their foresight and generosity in building such a huge network, just for us. [Sarcasm alert.]
  • Typical ignorami.

    The Labor NBN plan is this:

    1. Build a monopoly network through

    2. Sell the network to the highest bidder (probably Telstra).

    So you see, Labor's long term plan is to introduce a privately owned monopoly network.

    • @FredShekel: Figure that out all by yourself?

      Two gaping holes there my friend

      Privitisation of the NBN would usually means floating it and selling it off as shares (remember Telstra? how it got "privatised") and then the government sells off their shares to the public so its no longer sole owner of the company. The existing board will then have to answer to the share holders now owned in private hands as oppposed to before where the government was the biggest share holder. Its not a case of fire sale of "who wants to buy teh gubernment company fer X dollas!!"

      Of course this could mean that Telstra shareholders MAY buy stocks in there. That being said if for some mystical reason Telstra "buys" a majority of the NBN shares and becomes a de facto owner it's still a seperate entity to it's Telco services. ie. their TWO SEPERATE ENTITIES. And if NBN company as a wholesale provider begins to start "favouring" Telstra services over other providers it's called "collusion" and this new "Telstra owned" NBN will find itself in legal trouble w/ ASIC very quickly. And one would assume that if Telstra should attempt to reintigrate the wholesale back w/ their retail there would be lots of legislation in place preventing that.
    • oh look nuthugger is back... Quick get that tinfoil hat back on we dont know what else the government is planning!
      Hubert Cumberdale
      • Is that the best you can do Humbert? Yes it is, because you know what I said is the truth, so all you can manage is yet another of your pathetic insults.

        A yes folks, this is Humbert, who acknowledges that copper is capable of 300Mbps and that 40% of Australia could be served with this technology. Humbert also believes that the remaining 60% of Australia should have fibre.
        • Wait didn't you say you dont vote and you dont live here? Sorry but your opinion is no longer valid, it is null & void. You dont count.
          Hubert Cumberdale
          • Hubert you are being much to nice and fair...

            Seriously, although every one is entitled to one, this child's opinion was never valid and never counted.

          • Yes indeed you have a good point there beta.
            Hubert Cumberdale
          • Hubert you were right, he doesn't live here...

            He lives in Detroit, he's in his 20's, has short blonde hair and a tattoo on his left shoulder!

            Check it out, this HAS to be him ;-)

        • Fred (who claims 300mbps is available, says 60% of Australians should get no comms at all and says roads shouldn't be asphalted) ring Telstra and ask them can they provide you or me with 300mbps copper.

          And post their answer .... here.

          Go on tiger, on ya bike!
  • @FredShekel
    Possibly some truth in what you say but at least everyone would have equal access and coverage as it would be *built* by an independent.
  • Oh richo_man "At least on the NBN the government will eventually regain a profit."
    If you believe that then you really do believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden.
    If the NBN, as currently conceived, is ever rolled out (look at the take up rates thus far) I'll be 95 and we'll all be communicating by "direct thought transference" or some other as yet to be invented technology. As to this hapless government making a "profit" on anything it touches is pure fantasy as you well know..... Go figure
    • "I'll be 95"

      Are you currently 85 years old? If so, then you are probably right.

      "we'll all be communicating by "direct thought transference" or some other as yet to be invented technology."

      Perfect! Lets also completely scrap all road mantenance and construction planning, because some day we'll have flying cars and those roads will be obsolete.
      • See paranoid we shouldn't have wasted money on asphalting all those roads after all... lol!
    • "I'll be 95"

      An 85 year old on a tech site like Zdnet? Amazing, it certainly shows too...

      "we'll all be communicating by "direct thought transference" or some other as yet to be invented technology."

      LOL, still dreaming of that magical star trek subspace communication? you oldies crack me up, how about flying cars? isn't that what they promised you back in the 50's too?
      Hubert Cumberdale
  • Gotta love the (ill) logic of the rad con...

    We do not need such FTTP speeds (just 100mbps for now - theoretical 26tbps) because no one needs them and there are no apps and none in the forseeable future.


    Something better and faster than (s6tbps) fibre will be invented over the next 10 years, which we will need and should use.