I am currently in Kuching joining the Broadband circus that is currently touring the country to get more users to join in the broadband band wagon. One of the key area identified by the consultants (or was it the “lab” participants) for the country to leap into a high income country is to ensure a good coverage of broadband throughout the country. The target set for this year is 50% and by 2020 it should in the region of 75%. It was announced by the DPM that we had already surpassed the target by 3% recently and it could reach 55% by year end.
I believe most town folks now have some sort of internet connectivity at home or offices, but the speed of the connection that is worrying. Even with the so called broadband, the speed is comparatively slow (about 10Mbps/4Mbps/1Mbps depending on your payment package) as compared to the norm of 10-100Mbps in Korea and Singapore. You see, with the development of the ICT industry the internet had so much content, the highway that we provided can no longer cope. Imagine the PLUS highway prior to the 3-lane Ayer Keroh to Slim River during festival periods. Yeah, we have the highway, but the vehicles that ply the highway are so many, it can jammed up very easily. There are cars, buses, motorcycles, lories, trucks, even bicycles plying the same highway at the same time, it can make the experience of using the highway very frustrating indeed. Currently the use of the of the internet line is more than merely for seeking info. People use it for financial transactions, social activities, downloading data, video, audio, texts and communications. Thus a meticulous and efficient information highway management system incorporating regulations, charges, maintenance, etc, are desperately needed. We can only expand the highway so much, but proper management is definitely the key.
My experience is Kuching from the past two days gave me valuable lessons on the psyche of the users as far as our EduwebTV is concerned. While many people who came to the carnival just came to gather as many goodie bags as possible but those who turned up at our booth apparently had no clue on the existence of the EduwebTV. Many asked about access fee and registration charges. I am also convinced that we definitely need more sessions like this to tell the world of our existence. The challenge is to gather enough critical mass of users for the system to self propagate. Having said that, if our programme is good, attractive and useful, users would definitely like it and would tell their peers. With the advent of internet social network, words would be spread through the network very quickly, just like how little Yuna become big star. So I think these days, big publicity or lavish promotional activities would not work to sustain the interests. Maybe we should target our promotions to the current online users, more online adverts and inserts as well as judiciuosly targeted users. But whatever it is, strong supporting infrastructure is a key element. There is little use of beautiful, attractive programmes if users cannot access them, as is the case now. Our recent survey clearly showed that the main obstacle or main users’ complaint is slow access to the videos and downloading time that can be endless. I am praying that with an increase of broadband home users, things would be better.