2010 Malaysia - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband

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Last updated: 24 May 2010 Update History

Report Status: Archived

Report Pages: 99

Analyst: Peter Evans

Publication Overview

This report provides a comprehensive overview of the trends and developments in the telecommunications and digital media markets in Malaysia. Subjects covered include:

  • Key Statistics;
  • Market and Industry Overviews;
  • Regulatory Environment;
  • Major Players (fixed and mobile);
  • Infrastructure;
  • Mobile Voice and Data Market;
  • Internet, including VoIP and IPTV;
  • Broadband (fixed and mobile).

Researcher:- Peter Evans
Current publication date:- May 2010 (16th Edition)
Next publication date:- May 2011

Executive Summary

With its widespread application of modern technologies such as fibre optics, wireless transmission, digitalisation and satellite services, Malaysia has one of the more advanced telecom networks in the developing world. Of course, the country has a national objective to see Malaysia ranked as a fully developed country by the year 2020. This Vision 2020 was a concept introduced by the former Prime Minister Mr Mahathir in 1991 when he launched the Sixth Malaysia Plan. In other words, the task of building an advanced telecom sector has had strong links to national pride; certainly for a period in the 1990s the country was busy promoting itself as a regional high technology hub. In recent times, however, it has adopted a quieter profile and simply gone about the task of putting what might be described as a technologically progressive economy in place.

The generally strong growth across the country’s telecom sector inevitably brought with it a flurry of investment interest and activity. The telecommunications market in Malaysia has experienced privatisation in all facets of the industry and a general opening up of the market with a significant number of new licences being granted. While still in an expansion phase the Malaysia’s telecom sector has undergone some important restructuring. This has involved the regulator progressively introducing reforms. In the meantime, the telecom companies have been doing battle in an increasingly competitive and changing market. It is true to say that the last decade has seen healthy overall growth in Malaysia’s telecom sector. At the same time, substantial government participation in Information & Communications Technology (ICT) development has also been a particular characteristic of the Malaysian market.

The developmental effort in the telecom sector has been led by a booming mobile market with more than 30 million subscribers and a penetration of 106% at the start of 2010. This meant Malaysia had the second highest mobile penetration in South East Asia after Singapore. Malaysians have been big adopters of SMS, with an estimated 100 billion SMS having been sent during 2009. More recently, there has been a major push into the area of 3G services with around 21% of the total mobile subscriber base being 3G subscribers by end-2009.

The fixed-line market by contrast has moved along a much more subdued path with 4.3 million subscribers (15% penetration) by end-2009. And there were no early signs that the fixed-line market was going to start expanding again, this despite the government still having some rather ambitious targets in place. Fixed lines nevertheless have remained an important element in the building of a national telecom infrastructure.

The adoption of the Internet has been happening at a reasonable rate, although slower than expected given the emphasis that the government has been placing on ICT development. In fact, it was not until 2008 that high speed broadband access to the Internet really started to build in a serious fashion. By early 2010, Internet subscriber numbers has passed the six million mark; of these around 45% had broadband access. The Malaysian broadband market has continued to be dominated by services based on Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) technology and incumbent Telekom Malaysia has been the dominant service provider. A major boost to the broadband strategy for the country came in 2008 when the government selected Telekom Malaysia to roll out a National Broadband Network (NBN). In what was referred to locally as the High-Speed Broadband (HSBB) project, Telekom Malaysia started building a fibre-based open system; however, it was not required to offer open access to this network until 2015. The first stage of the HSBB network was launched in early 2010.

Malaysia has also been continuing to develop its multi-billion dollar Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) project. Although the project has become much lower key than previously, the government says it has been meeting its MSC targets, with more than 2,000 companies already involved, and it has well and truly achieved the status of a thriving global ICT hub.

Market highlights

  • around 106% of Malaysia’s 29 million people had a mobile telephone service by early 2010;
  • the launch of 3G mobile networks by Telekom Malaysia and Maxis in late 2005 initially saw slow growth in next generation subscriptions;
  • however, by end-2009 there were 6.5 million 3G subscribers signed up, meaning that already one out of every five mobile subscribers was a 3G customer;
  • after surprisingly little interest in broadband Internet for many years, Malaysia’s broadband penetration had finally started to move in 2008/09;
  • however, broadband subscriber penetration in Malaysia still only represented 9% of the population by end-2009;
  • with the government having launched its strategy for building a National Broadband Network in 2008 by awarding the key contract to Telkom Malaysia, work was proceeding on the High-Speed Broadband project;
  • Telekom Malaysia announced the launch of its HSBB service in early 2010, with the operator offering bandwidth at access speeds of 10Mb/s;
  • whilst the initial phase of the HSBB was to see rapid coverage of major cities and towns, nationwide impementation of project was expected to take 10 years;
  • growth in Malaysia’s fixed-line services has continued to ‘flat-line’ with a fixed-line penetration of around 15%.

Malaysia: – key telecom parameters – 2009 - 2010



2010 (e)

Fixed-line services:



  • Total number of subscribers

4.30 million

4.30 million

  • Annual growth (e)



  • Fixed-line penetration (population)



  • Fixed-line penetration (household)



Broadband Internet:



  • Total number of subscribers

2.62 million

3.25 million

  • Annual growth



  • Broadband penetration (population)



  • Broadband penetration (household)



Mobile services:



  • Total number of subscribers

30.4 million

33.4 million

  • Annual growth



  • Total 3G subscribers

6.5 million

9.2 million

  • 3G as percentage of total mobile



  • Mobile penetration (population)



(Source: BuddeComm)

Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.

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