M'sian broadband sector needs SME support

It's the lack of knowledge that is slowing down broadband adoption by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Malaysia, asserted Cordoda chief executive officer Shane Hodge in an interview.

KUALA LUMPUR--It's the lack of knowledge that is slowing down broadband adoption by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the country, asserted Cordoda Corporation chief executive officer Shane Hodge.

"There's a lot of infrastructure out there to support broadband connectivity ... but the take up is slow," he said in an interview recently.

Hodge dismissed the notion that the government is slow in laying the necessary broadband infrastructure pointing out that Telekom Malaysia, Time dotCom and Maxis Communications all have huge fiber-optic networks criss-crossing the country.

Cordoda's flagship product, Enterprise Broadband Network (EBN) is made up of last-mile connections from these local telcos, giving its 40-odd clients spread across the Peninsula and Sabah and Sarawak, high-speed Internet access.

He said the local financial sector as well as the corporates have already realized the importance of broadband connectivity in their businesses.

He said the only way to make use of all that bandwidth is to compel SMEs to use broadband as there are at least 20,000 SMEs in the country with some statistics indicating there are up to 100,000.

"We have got to create the knowledge for the need ... there are just not enough demand for e-business applications for the SMEs," Hodge said.

"It's just like the Internet in the early stages. Unless people know what it can do for them, only then did the Internet penetration rates shoot up.

"Likewise, broadband will only be seen as important by SMEs when they realize the need for online applications like online human resource, sales supports and e-transactions," Hodge pointed out.

He said Cordoda had set up a seven-man task force to interview SMEs about what their needs are and use these feedbacks to "give them what they need" as far as connectivity is concerned.

"Our networks are largely untapped and there is a lot of room for more customers to use our services," Hodge said.

Cordoda has 18 points-of-presence (POPs) which allows customers to get broadband access. Hodge said just one POP can support 300 customers.

"We have spent something like RM47 million (US$12 million) to build our infrastructure and we plan to spend another RM9 million (US$2.4 million) this year to build nine more POPs," he added.

Cordoda's customers are largely concentrated in the financial and corporate sector.