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Struggling to keep pace
Feeding the
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World Wide Wait?
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The Internet in Asia
From Internet World magazine 
Update on the Internet activity in Southeast Asia
From Commercial Internet eXchange Association 
Asia Internet use expected to rise
Asian ISPs see growth, confront technical challenges
From IDG News Service 
Faster Internet Access? Forget 56K
From MY@net Magazine 

Can Malaysia feed its Web hungry?

Jaring, run by Mimos Bhd, began as a government-funded research institution with little experience in commercial ventures. On the other hand, TMnet, owned by state-controlled Telekom Malaysia Bhd, had its hands full competing with rival players for the more lucrative mobile and fixed-line telephone services.

As the two ISPs graduate from teething phase to full-fledged value-added providers, the number of users coming online is likely to continue to put unusual demands on their services.

Jaring currently estimates that it has 550,000 users, while TMnet claims 321,000 subscribers. Both expect to exceed a million users each by 2001, more than doubling the total subscription base in just 18 months.

Adding to the mix, Malaysia has shelled out ISP licenses to five more telco players which may introduce their services soon.

TMnet, which has borne the brunt of the complaints in recent months, said it plans to address the congestion problems by increasing the number of POPs nationwide by 20 percent.

"Plans are underway to upgrade the current international bandwidth capacity by 25 percent by year end to cater for expected growth," said Abdul Majid Abdullah, general manager for Internet Access Services of Telekom Multimedia. "We are also increasing manpower in technical support from 12 persons per shift to 25, and we hope that this will alleviate the downtimes."

Abdul Majid said that for more bandwidth-hungry applications, TMnet has begun offering a range of high-speed access modes which were rolled out this year, including Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) and HiS, a home Internet service developed with Ericsson.

Mohamed Awang-Lah, vice president of Mimos, said Jaring is also expected to double its international bandwidth this year in preparation for more commercial-driven applications.

One factor hampering expansion plans is the high operating costs of international connectivity. Malaysian ISPs, like their Asian counterparts, pay a premium for dedicated leased lines linked to the US-based networks. By contrast, American ISPs pay much less for domestic leased lines.

Unlike the split costs of non-Internet leased lines, Asians pay for the entire circuit to the US--the current reasoning being that US content is more voluminous and attractive.

"Eighty percent of our operating cost is telco related. About half of this is due to international connectivity, which we have to bear the full circuit cost for," said Mohamed Awang-Lah.

Abdul Majid concurred with his Jaring counterpart that increased operational costs from connectivity was of "great concern as it affects TMnet's bottom line".

He indicated that Telekom Malaysia was still in the midst of negotiating either to reduce or share the cost.


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