Telekom Malaysia Expansion

Telekom Malaysia Expansion

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The Internet Infra-structure
The internet usage is growing very rapidly in Malaysia in the recent years. The internet is well-known as JARING (Joint Advanced Research Networking) in Malaysia.

Currently, MIMOS (Malaysian Institute of Microelectronics Systems), a governemt agency is overall maintaining and responsible for the the network backbone for JARING. Due to the rapid growth, the director-general of MIMOS Dr Tengku Mohamed Azzman Shariffadeen has made a press statement lately that under the Seventh Malaysia Plan, the speed of the network will be upgraded to about 20 to 300 times. A high speed 34 Mbps to 45Mbps link will be established. Public can access the Internet by calling 1511 or the telephone numbers supplied by MIMOS.

Telekom Malaysia Berhad, has been recently approved by cabinet to be the second ISP in the country, making MIMOS no longer lonely in providing access to the global network. The TMNet is expected to further boost the Internet population with Telekom Malaysia Berhad's capabilities.

The growth is generally attributed to the awareness of Malaysian regarding the usefulness of the Information Superhighway, the coverage from the mass media and strong support from the government.

The commitment from the country leaders and government proven by the development of MSC (Multimedia Super Corridor) will have a direct impact on the promoting the growth of internet in the nation. The gradual installations of Internet Access PC for all schools will have a positive effect on the awareness of the global network.

The Content Of Information
On the Internet content, Malaysia' Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad recently suggested that the international community draw up a common agreement to check abuses such as pornography from being transmitted in the Internet.

Prime Minister - Dr Mahathir

"There must come a time when the international community comes together to have a law that can be applied in every country," he said.

The Prime Minister said the common agreement would allow the international community to appeal or charge a citizen in the country where he floated pornography in the Internet.

"For example if a person in the United States was floating dirty literature in the Internet which affects our children here, we (Malaysians) can then appeal or bring a charge against the person.

"The action should be taken in the US, by the US. Maybe this is the answer," he said when responding to a question from participants of the chief executive officers' forum entitled The Malaysia's Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) The Concept and Implementation Challenges at the Putra World Trade Centre recently.

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Dr Mahathir noted that it was not only the Malaysians who were worried about pornography and their children getting access to that. He said he had spoken to leaders of other countries such as Germany and Japan who had also voiced their concern. "We think there should be some international agreement on what can go or cannot go on this free media (Internet)," he said.

Malaysia, he said, had been trying to "remain close" in terms of information but it was almost impossible to stop news from being disseminated. Mainly internet is beyond the control of the nation. "And now with the Internet, just about anything can be spread. You can be as subversive as ever and you can actually tell Malaysians they should revolt against the Government. Practically there is nothing we can do," he added.

However, Dr Mahathir noted there would be a lot of resistance to the idea of a common agreement to check abuses in the Internet, adding that the argument was that "it is a restriction of freedom." The Prime Minister reiterated that freedom could not be absolute.

The Prime Minister has reiterated that the negative impact of the internet however, will not discrupt the grow of the Information Superhighway as the positive values are much greater.

Government agencies, higher learning institutions and private organisations are now making ways to publish online information for their department and services.

ISP licences by the Ministry of Energy, Telecommunications and Posts. The five new licences were awarded to existing telecommunications carriers Celcom, Mutiara, PrismaNet, Time Telecommunications and Bina Sat-Com. They will join the two incumbent ISPs, Jaring and TMNet, and are expected to commence services before the end of 1998. The government has stated that it does not expect to issue any further licences in the immediate future, however the value-added service provider market (ie, reselling from the licensed ISPs) is completely deregulated. At the end of 1997 Malaysia had approximately 205,000 Internet users, split evenly between Jaring and TMNet.
Jaring, the network provided by the Malaysian Institute of Microelectronic Systems (MIMOS), was the country's first Internet backbone and gateway. Its international connectivity is extensive and includes one T3 link and two E1 links to the US, multiple E1s to Canada, an E1 to the ABONE exchange in Japan and a 256kbps connection to SingNet in Singapore. Domestically, its backbone has 71 points of presence (POPs) throughout the country located in major towns. These are generally connected by 2Mbps links and in some cases 34Mbps links.

Both the country's Internet backbones (ie Jaring and TMNet) are linked together via a 10Mbps connection.

TMNet, a subsidiary of Telekom Malaysia Berhad, was introduced as a second ISP in 1996 and has quickly established itself alongside Jaring as a key backbone operator. Its international connections consist of a T3 to AT&T WorldNet in San Francisco, two E1s and a 512kbps link through MCI, and two links to Japan one 128kbps link to KDD and another 128kbps link to IDC.

Domestically, TMNet is promoting the use of ISDN to speed up access to the Internet, which many users still complain is too slow. ISDN lines are available through parent company Telekom Malaysia, with most of the other carriers yet to implement ISDN on a large scale.

In addition to the national backbones, many of the individual state governments are implementing their own networking projects, some of which involve extensive physical infrastructure while other are more content-based web projects. One of the more developed networks comes from the State of Sabah on the island of Borneo, which has created its own state-wide intranet for connecting the government and business with the general community. The network was built by Sabah-based KKIP Communications, although it is owned by the Sabah state government, and consists of a series of frame relay links connected through ATM switches. Remote dial-up access is through a toll-free number. The network does not yet allow full access to the Internet, although this is planned at a later stage. In the meantime, Sabah.Net is being used for access to electronic government systems as well as e-commerce and online education applications. The Sabah.Net web site is also accessible from the Internet and contains significant local information and services.

Similarly, the state of Selangor is setting up a network to connect its nine districts and two city councils. The first phase of the project is a local-area network at the state headquarters in Shah Alam. This is already being used for regular video conferencing sessions with district heads and utilises dial-up services through Jaring. The next stage will be to connect the offices via 2Mb links for direct access. The final goal will be to develop applications for electronic government.

Penang Network Services has also setup Penang.net, which is more content/information oriented. Penang Network Services is a state government-endorsed organisation that was set up primarily to assist Penang in preparing for a digital economy. It offers multimedia, LAN/WAN integration, and application development services while the site has detailed information on Penang.

In the other Borneo state of Sarawak, Telekom Malaysia has recently completed a study on a planned Sarawak Cyber Village. The proposed village is to be located at Kota Samarahan and aims to accelerate the development of information technology in the state. However, as yet the project is only in the early planning stages.

In the education section, a number of institutions have signed an MoU to establish a single network structure to support the needs of the higher education sector in delivering distance learning. Called MahirNet (Malaysian Higher Institutional & Research Network), the consortium members comprise Universiti Telekom, the International Islamic University, University Utara Malaysia, University Malaysia Sabah, Telekom Malaysia, and the Open Learning Agency. MahirNet will focus on delivering distance education through mixed-media but with a bias towards using telecommunications technology. The project will be managed by a joint venture company setup between Telekom Malaysia and the Open Learning Agency of Malaysia, which works in partnership with the Open Learning Agency of British Colombia (Canada). Learning centres are expected to be setup in various parts of the country for the benefit of remote students and other universities may be included at a later stage.

Another significant education initiative for furthering the Internet/IT sector is the Universiti Telekom (Unitele) in Malacca. Unitele was inaugurated in 1996 as the country's first private university. It was setup by Telekom Malaysia but stems from an earlier institution, the Institut Telekomunikasi dan Teknologi Maklumat (ITTM). More recently Unitele has been expanded to a twin-campus university following the decision to setup the Universiti Multimedia, which will shortly move from Malacca to a new base in the MSC. The multimedia component of Unitele, along with some 2000 students, will move to the new campus. The university offers both traditional courses in subjects in engineering, IT, management, and media arts and sciences, as well as a virtual university program where students do not have to physically attend classes.

Research into broadband networking technologies is being conducted by a project known as Testbed

Environment for Malaysian Multimedia Applications and Networking (TEMAN). TEMAN members include MIMOS, JTM, Celcom, and a number of leading universities.
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