Telekom Malaysia keeps cool under fire

The last two months have not been the smoothest of rides for Telekom Malaysia, with the giant being rapped from all sides. But the company's upper managment remains unfazed.

The last two months have not been the smoothest of rides for the country's incumbent telecommunications provider Telekom Malaysia, with the giant being rapped from all sides.

KUALA LUMPUR--First, there was the proposed takeover of Jaring by Telekom's subsidiary, TMNet, which has incurred the wrath of consumers concerned about the level of service that would be offered by the state-controlled telco.

Local media also reported that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (CMC)--the watchdog body formed to ensure a competitive playing field in the telco sector--declared that Telekom would be forced to open up its networks to other telcos to create more competition in the offering of data, voice and Internet services.

Following that, a leaked copy of a report on the MSC commissioned by the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDC) from consultants McKinsey and Co, all but pointed a finger at the telco when it noted that the telecommunications infrastructure in the country was short of 'world-class' standards and suggested that MDC prod Telekom into improving its services.

A few weeks later, International Data Corporation (IDC) product manager for Asia Pacific telecom research Gary Hong pointed out that Malaysia was in need of more value-added broadband services and that the key to increasing connectivity and broadband services was to deregulate further the telco sector.

The analyst singled out the "cosy relationship" between the government and Telekom Malaysia as being a possible major reason why the regulatory regime shackling broadband access was still in place.

All this however seems to have left the company's upper management unfazed. Telekom Chief Operating Officer (telCo) Idris Ibrahim responded at a news conference Wednesday almost nonchalantly to questions about the criticism thrown at the telco.

Ibrahim defended the telco, saying it had currently almost 250,000km of fiber-optics rolled out in Malaysia, had rolled out asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) and recorded RM2 billion in capital expenditure in the last year to improve the telecommunications infrastructure.

He added that Telekom Multimedia, a subsidiary of the company, had last week rolled out Streamyx, its broadband Internet service.

Streamyx utilises ADSL technology to deliver high-speed broadband access of up to 2mbps over existing copper cables. Streamyx however is only available to business and enterprise users for between RM1,290 and RM1,890 per month, with no indicator of when home users will be offered the service.

On the creeping rate of the roll-out, Ibrahim noted that the roll-out would be more aggressive and speedy once Telekom had a better idea of the receptiveness of the service in the market place.

Along with the roll-out of Streamyx, Telekom Multimedia said it would commit RM400 million to boost its broadband Internet access service over the next two years and of which, a quarter would be spent this year.