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Recent Developments in Malaysia’s Satellite Internet Industry

20 Oct 2022 | Malaysia

In 2020, the Malaysian government announced the JENDELA action plan as part of the 12th Malaysia Plan for 2021-2025. This roadmap was designed to establish a national digital network by strengthening telecommunications digital infrastructure and optimizing the country’s radio spectrum usage. As part of the plan to increase connectivity in Malaysia, the government allocated 21 billion Malaysian ringgit (RM) for JENDELA.

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) is the regulatory body for the telecommunications and internet services sector of the country. In 2021, they invited service providers to apply for licenses to install and supply broadband internet access via satellite in 839 locations across the country.

Many of these locations are in rural areas that cannot be reached by existing telecommunications infrastructure and are difficult to access due to the terrain. Satellite industry developments in Malaysia will allow these locations greater internet accessibility.

We look at the developments in Malaysia’s satellite internet industry and how it is helping unlock the next stage of the country’s digital transformation.

Malaysia’s Digital Divide

Satellite

The country is divided into two regions: Peninsular Malaysia, located in the southern part of the Malay Peninsula, and East Malaysia, located in the island of Borneo. Due to the country’s geographical characteristics, the population is divided between densely populated urban areas and sparsely populated rural areas. These rural areas are located in and around the country’s mountainous terrain and tropical rainforests, which make it difficult to install telecommunications infrastructure as they cannot be accessed by heavy machinery.

Part of the solution to bridge the digital divide between regions is by supporting Malaysia’s satellite internet market. On June 23, MEASAT Satellite Systems Sdn Bhd launched its MEASAT-3d satellite, their eighth and most advanced satellite, with the goal of strengthening internet connectivity in East Malaysia and supporting the country’s transition to 5G technology.

The MCMC regarded the MEASAT-3d satellite launch as instrumental to the country’s national digital network plan, helping them reach the target of 100% internet connectivity in the country by 2025. The country also hopes that Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. or SpaceX will launch its satellite broadband service in Malaysia by 2023.

Opportunities in Malaysia’s Satellite Internet Industry

Key players in the telecommunications and internet services space may want to explore offering broadband access via satellite to Malaysia’s rural areas. Foreign direct investments can be directed toward financing satellite internet infrastructure in Malaysia, which can be used to deliver connectivity to more far-flung areas in the country.

As the JENDELA action plan takes major strides in improving the country’s digital network through satellite internet, many other industries will benefit as well. Both large companies and micro, small and medium enterprises or MSMEs can utilize business innovations for their digital transformation, such as e-commerce, big data, and cloud computing. Meanwhile, consumers will also use better connectivity to enhance their buying experiences through e-commerce.

Internet connectivity is crucial to improving the quality of life in Malaysia. Its major industries will also benefit from better digital infrastructure. These developments in satellite internet in Malaysia will help accelerate the development of the country’s economy and allow it to strengthen the country’s telecommunications industry, one of the most competitive in the region.

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