2011 Malaysia - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts

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Last updated: 18 Jul 2011 Update History

Report Status: Archived

Report Pages: 96

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 and Analyses;
  • Regulatory Environment and Development;
  • Major Telecom Players (fixed and mobile);
  • Infrastructure;
  • Digital Media;
  • Mobile Voice and Data Market;
  • Internet, including VoIP and IPTV;
  • Broadband (fixed and mobile);
  • Scenario Forecasts (fixed-line, mobile and broadband subscribers).

Researcher:- Peter Evans
Current publication date:- July 2011 (17th Edition)

Executive Summary

With extensive application of modern technologies, Malaysia has one of the more advanced telecom networks in the developing world.

Malaysia has been working towards a clear national objective to see it ranked as a fully developed nation 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. With its widespread application of modern technologies such as fibre optics, wireless transmission, digitalisation and satellite services, Malaysia has been steadily working towards achieving its goal.

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 almost 35 million subscribers and a penetration of 121% coming into 2011. 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 4.9 million subscribers (17% penetration) by end-2010 and growth running at just a few percent annually. There were no real signs that the fixed-line market was going to start expanding strongly 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 and especially broadband was happening at a very positive rate by 2011. Finally the long awaited surge in internet demand was evident, after a period of slower than expected development, especially given the emphasis that the government had placed on ICT development. In fact, high speed broadband access to the Internet first started to take off in 2008. By early 2011, there were around five million broadband subscribers with almost 60% of these wireless based. The arrival of a range of wireless broadband services saw these technologies overwhelm a market previously dominated by services based on Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) technology. Telekom Malaysia had been the dominant broadband service provider and this was being challenged as the market opened up.

A major boost to the country’s broadband strategy was the move by the government to nominate 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 2010. Both the national roll-out and the signing up of customers continued into 2011.

 Key highlights

  • 121% of Malaysia’s almost 29 million people had a mobile telephone service by March 2011;
  • After a slow start after launch in 2008, 3G services were having a big impact on the market by 2011 with an estimated one in three mobile subscribers being a 3G customer;
  • after surprisingly little interest in broadband access for many years, Malaysia’s broadband internet penetration was increasing rapidly through 2010 and into 2011;
  • broadband in Malaysia had achieved a 17% population penetration by end-2010;
  • most significantly, the government was able to claim one of its targets had been achieved with over 55% broadband household penetration coming into 2011;
  • the strategy for building a National Broadband Network was well underway by 2011, with Telekom Malaysia moving rapidly on the roll-out of its government-sanctioned High-Speed Broadband (HSBB) project;
  • Following the launch of the first stage of the HSBB services in 2010, Telekom Malaysia was steadily signing up new subscribers to its fibre-based network;
  • growth in Malaysia’s fixed-line services, however, has continued to ‘flat-line’ with national fixed-line penetration stalled at around 17%.

Malaysia: - key telecom parameters – 2010 - 2011



2011 (e)

Fixed-line services:



Total No. of subscribers

4.90 million

5.00 million

Annual growth



Fixed-line penetration (population)



Fixed-line penetration (household)






Total No. of subscribers

4.72 million

5.50 million

Annual growth



Broadband subscriber penetration (population)



Broadband subscriber penetration (household) 1



Mobile services:



Total No. of subscribers

33.8 million

37.5 million

Annual growth



Mobile penetration (population)



(Source: BuddeComm)

Note: 1includes both fixed and mobile wireless broadband services

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