During today’s interview with Bernama, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) Chairman Dr Fadhlullah Suhaimi Abdul Malek has mentioned that going 100% online may not be the answer for home based teaching and learning (PdPR). He said it seems simple but in reality it isn’t as simple as that.
He shared that there are teachers who are struggling to pump out content while students are also struggling to download the content. On top of that, both sides are also struggling to interact with each other.
He added that the current telecommunications infrastructure still needs to be fixed to support the demand of 100% online learning. However, he shared that older technology such as broadcast is still available.
“We could use the broadcast channels. Yes, it isn’t interactive, but it’s a form of teaching over a different medium.” he said.
The chairman added, “Maybe the educators can revisit that and see how could they create a hybrid of broadcast plus on-ground interaction with the students within the schools nearby”.
When asked if 4G is sufficient for online learning over Zoom or working from home with various platforms, Dr Fadhlullah said 4G is sufficient. However, he said that when it comes to working from home, he urge people to use fixed broadband service coupled with WiFi. He mentioned that many people have substitute mobile broadband with fixed broadband.
7.5 million fiberised premises by end 2022
During the interview, the MCMC Chairman said one of the biggest initiatives under JENDELA is fiberisation which will provide a future proof network. He said mobile networks will always be there but it will never be future proof. At the moment, there are 5.4 million out of 9 million premises in Malaysia that have access to fibre which is about 60%. The MCMC aims to have the remaining 40% to be fiberised within the next four years.
In the last 4 months, a total of 400,000 additional premises have gained access to fibre and 1.2 million more premises are expected to get fibre in 2021. Under JENDELA plan, the target is to have a total of 7.5 million premises connected to fibre by end 2022.
Network improvements need to be expedited
Looking at the current pandemic situation, most Malaysians would likely have to endure prolonged movement control order. With most people having to stay at home, connectivity remains a crucial component for online learning.
The MCMC said it has been looking at quick fixes to resolve connectivity issues but at the same time, they are building new infrastructure to support future demand which will take time. MCMC has also promised to respond to complaints about poor connectivity within 24 hours and they urge consumers to report via its Aduan SKMM portal.
The commission has recently sent out invites for JENDELA Phase 1 which aims to provide 4G connectivity at underserved areas. It aims to provide an average download speed of 35Mbps at 1,661 locations in 106 clusters throughout Malaysia.
The previous NFCP Phase 2 which was aimed at improving connectivity in rural areas of East Malaysia was meant to start last year. However, NFCP 2 has been scrapped in favour of JENDELA Phase 1, which is still in the request for proposal (RFP) stage.