KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 24 – The recognition of the Internet as the third utility in the 2021 Budget is a success for the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia. The move will pave the way for better Internet connectivity nationwide.
Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said in a press release that the 2021 Budget presented by Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz would boost the ministry’s work in terms of Internet connectivity, digital economy, creative economy and cyber security.
“With Internet connectivity recognised by federal and state governments as a ‘third utility’, this new policy is a step forward and an important benchmark in accelerating the ministry’s work of strengthening the country’s digital infrastructure,” said Saifuddin.
One of the major problems faced by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and telecommunication companies was the delay in approvals from the local authorities for the provision of telecommunication infrastructure.
“Today, developers need to prepare their plans for two utilities, namely water and electricity. It is not necessary to provide planning on Internet connectivity, because Internet connectivity is not regarded as a utility.
“Planning for Internet connectivity only arises after the development is completed. This is the main factor why digital infrastructure work takes too long to complete,” he said.
With the recognition as third utility, the approval process and the construction of telecommunication infrastructure can be sped up.
“This is part of our proposal to be included in the Infrastructure Planning Guidelines (GPP-I) to facilitate the provision of digital infrastructure.
First, it requires the preparation of standardised guidelines to facilitate the provision of national digital infrastructure.
The ministry, under the stewardship of Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, has been working towards ensuring that the internet is considered to be the country’s third public utility, after water and electricity, under Budget 2021.
This move by the ministry does not involve any funding because the funding already exists. However, the policy statement from the government that internet connectivity is considered as a public utility just like water and electricity is important as it will cut down waiting time in getting relevant approval from the local authorities.
Ensuring that a residential or commercial development will only be approved provided that internet connection is ready, just like water and electricity will cut down all the bureaucracy in getting internet connections.
Given the COVID-19 situation, good broadband service is an important basic need, not only in the business sector but also in other sectors including education, which due to the pandemic, has forced thousands of students to attend classes from home.
The Ministry is also working with the government to immediately address the situation by improving broadband infrastructure in rural areas and taking other initiatives that may help the community enjoy better internet facilities, which is part of KKMM’s broader push for national digitalisation.