Internet demand surges after COVID-19 outbreak

Izah Azahari

Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah said with students being home-schooled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, there has been an increased demand for broadband or data.

“There have been a growing number of requests from those who have yet to have a fixed broadband,” he said yesterday, in response to a question on the surge of Internet usage and connectivity, with the introduction of e-learning.

He added, “During the first two weeks of April, around 2,400 applications were received for fixed broadband, where about 700 installations were carried out.

“Unified National Networks (UNN) has the ability to carry out about 60 installations daily, and the completion of all installations will hopefully be carried out in the following weeks.”

On the issue of slow Internet speed, the minister said, “In the past few days, there was a submarine cable problem, which was beyond the UNN’s control.

“Normally, there are five cables extending out of the country to various places. Three out of the five were down in the past few days, resulting in a lot of congestion for the first time in several months. The cables have been repaired, so things should return to normal.

“The UNN is continuing to improve our connectivity and speed, so we have about 750 to 800 sites in the country that we are upgrading. Many will already have experienced 4G+, as 200 to 300 sites have already been upgraded.”

The minister also noted that the slow Internet speed could be caused by a surge in data usage by students, “but with all the improvements that UNN will implement, it will improve in the next few weeks.

Speaking on those unable to afford basic Internet access, the minister said, “Some telecommunications companies are thinking of creating an education pack for students, specifically for education applications and not for streaming and the like. The price range would be BND4 for 4GB or BND16 for 10GB, where usually the 10GB would cost more, so it will be a cheaper option for them.”

Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah. PHOTO: BAHYIAH BAKIR