Gobind aspires to implement digital government, like Estonia’s

  • Oct 9, 2018
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Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo today said the digital government seen in Estonia is the one that he aspires for Malaysia.

He noted that the northern European country was ranked “the most advanced digital society in the world” by specialist tech magazine, Wired.

The minister said he was made to understand that 99 percent of government services in Estonia were available digitally, translated into a fully digital end-to-end experience with no phone calls, office visits or physical paperwork.

Sharing his vision in his speech at the 'Malaysia – A New Dawn' investor conference in Kuala Lumpur, he said: "This is the digital government that I envision for Malaysia. For this to become a reality, we need high-quality, world-class infrastructure at affordable prices."

Saying that he envisioned a Malaysia where Internet connectivity was available to anyone, anywhere, and at any time, Gobind noted that today out of eight million households, only about 18 percent have access to high-speed (fibre) broadband.

"While the mobile broadband space has a very high penetration rate, we need more high-speed fixed broadband infrastructure to support the growth of the digital economy," he said.

Gobind also elaborated on the National Fiberisation and Connectivity Plan (NFCP) being developed by his ministry through the Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), and offered a sneak peek at some of the initial targets set out by the ministry.

The NFCP has set a baseline broadband coverage at 98 percent in populated areas by 2023, with broadband at a minimum speed of 30 Mbps via the deployment of the 700 MHz spectrum.

It also sets a target of gigabit-speed internet services for selected high-impact and strategic industrial areas by 2020, and all state capitals by 2023.

"This is to ensure that areas for where there are high-use cases, 5G would be ready for network deployment when the standards have been finalised," he said.

As the 5G New Radio (NR) specification continues on its standardisation path, Gobind said Cyberjaya and Putrajaya would be 5G testbed areas.

"Cyberjaya and Putrajaya, with their fibre-ready network, are ideal locations as testbeds for 5G," he said, adding that the MCMC would lead the 5G trials by setting up a task force that would include the local governments of Cyberjaya and Putrajaya.

"Testbedding 5G services is needed not just on the technology front but it also allows the government to learn about and iron out policies, regulations and spectrum planning as 5G NR deployment will be markedly different from earlier standards," he said.

In addition, Gobind said that beginning November 2018 for a period of one year, telcos, vendors, researchers, startups and technology adopters would be invited to carry out 5G trials in Cyberjaya and Putrajaya in order to explore the practical uses and modes of implementation.

To address the problem of Malaysia's fibre coverage that is lagging behind its peers, the minister said the NFCP would phase out copper networks by 2023.

Another target outlined under the plan is for 70 percent of all schools, government offices, hospitals, clinics, police and fire stations to be served by fibre networks by 2022.

Gobind also said that network facility provider (NFP) and network service provider (NSP) licences would be liberalised to promote competition and ensure continued growth of the industry and benefits for the consumer.

With the liberalisation of NFP and NSP licences, he said, Malaysia was looking to attract major data centres to its shores, making it a regional hub.

The minister also listed down some of the advantages of Malaysia, such as its strategic geographic location in Southeast Asia, convergence of submarine cables from the Americas and Europe, geological stability and the absence of extreme weather conditions.