2010 in Malaysia according to biatch0

So, yet another New Year is upon us… big whoopdedoo!!! Here’s a quick round up of what happened in 2010 according to the Gospel of biatch0.

Telekom Malaysia (TM) announces UniFi – The FIRST Fibre-To-The-Home (FTTH) solution in Malaysia. Obviously, it isn’t so cool when you take into consideration that no other ISP could possibly do this in Malaysia even if they wanted to; thanks Telekom Malaysia for having the monopoly to the Malaysian last-mile. Also announced at the same time, TM announces Fair Usage Policies and Quotas for UniFi that are more suited to wireless ISPs; 60GB, 90GB, 120GB for 5Mbps, 10Mbps, and 20Mbps respectively. Huge uproar in the general public ensues and they “temporarily” remove quotas saying that they were “listening” to their customers feedback thus generating “some” positive press for them. Well, guess what, the bloodsuckers at TM have obviously “listened” since the quota system is due to be implemented this year with no changes to the data caps.

Obviously, copper couldn’t provide these speeds which is why TM (and the Malaysian government who so graciously added RM2.4 billion give or take) had to invest in fibre. Oh wait, look at this interesting bit of information, ADSL2 which works over copper goes up to 24Mbps!!! Strange, now why would TM and the Malaysian government spend billions of taxpayer dollars to implement something that could be done over existing infrastructure? IT OBVIOUSLY COULD HAVE NO RELATION TO THE AWESOME BENTLEY AND MERCEDES BENZ THOSE TM AND GOVERNMENT GUYS ARE DRIVING AROUND.

Telekom Malaysia (TM) UniFi is rooted – Numerous security flaws in the wireless routers supplied by TM to consumers are found; interestingly, some are thanks to the awesome technical prowess of TM technicians. Team SexyKambingz shows proof of concept for various interesting things, and are called in to provide input on security. Now obviously since Team SexyKambingz are Malaysian, they should be so incredibly thankful to TM for providing them with INCREDIBLE Internet all these years at UNBELIEVABLE prices and as such should provide any and all information they have to TM gratis. Unfortunately for TM, Team SexyKambingz are a bunch of people who for some reason think TM are the bloodsucking offspring of Satan himself and REFUSED to provide free security services to TM. Pfft… the gall of these people!!! We should be so thankful to TM for providing us awesome Internet all these years that we are giving up our first and second born to them!!! (In case some packets are lost in transmission, insert the <sarcasm></sarcasm> tag liberally in this post)

Telekom Malaysia (TM) holds meeting with highly technical customers because they deeply value our feedback – Due to the previous issue of UniFi security in combination with the widespread growing hatred the Malaysian public harbor for TM (without basis might I add *COUGH*); TM chose to hold a meeting to see what the community had to say about various issues such as their Fair Usage Policy, Quotas, and security. TM essentially came up with a bunch of random numbers that defied the laws of physics as we know them and used those numbers as justification for incredibly fair quotas!!! I mean a 60GB cap for a 5Mbps connection is really fair when you take into consideration a 1.5Mbps connection could do about 500GB a month easily. Right? Right? Essentially, what TM was saying at this meeting was that they are unable to cope with the bandwidth demands of their customers. Surprisingly, this MAY occur when you have close to a 100 to 1 contention ratio (I’m pulling this number out of my ass but won’t be surprised if it’s actually close to what TM is really doing). TM also made it very clear that their earlier stunt of removing the quota was a publicity stunt to avoid their beautiful building being burned down by the Malaysian general public – because it’s pretty clear they STILL want to implement the exact same quotas they originally planned. Listening my ass… I mean my ass literally does as much listening as the guys at TM. Considering the number of years that TM has been sucking money out of every single Internet user in Malaysia (save a few fortunate souls who live in TIMEdotCom or other wired ISP coverage areas) they should very well be able to afford more bandwidth than Akamai and Google put together.

The Star reports that Telekom Malaysia DOES NOT have a monopoly on Malaysian Internet – Yes, this is true, also, I am next in line to be the Pope, I am actually the real person who founded Facebook, Twitter, Google and Yahoo, and I am an immortal. Deputy Information, Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum needs to start sharing whatever he’s been smoking because it sure seems like some good shit. TM are pretty much the sole reason the Internet in Malaysia is only comparable to places like Afghanistan or insert random war torn country here. Tell our well-informed Deputy Information, Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum that when every ISP in Malaysia can provide service over public infrastructure that was conveniently “claimed” by TM 20 odd years ago, then I’ll believe that TM doesn’t have a monopoly. Until that day, TM and whoever thinks otherwise can shove whatever they think right up their No Entry exit.

YTL finally launches Yes 4G – These guys almost stole the limelight from TM with the awesome blossom that was their “launch”. They used the term 4G at their launch a week after the ITU announced the 4G standards (which Yes 4G did not meet) but fortunately caught a lucky break later when the ITU lowered the standards to cover the technology used by YTL. Free Internet was found by some people much to their glee, before the YTL website buckled under the load of a (reportedly) 300,000 hits per second DDoS, and team HITB foolishly (I say this in retrospect) provided YTL with consultation gratis to fix certain “issues”. Limited disclosure here for reasons which will remain withheld.

TIMEdotCom rebrands and releases their own fibre connection – TIMEdotCom is as far as I’m concerned the only REAL ISP in Malaysia. Buy a 2Mbps connection from them, and guess what, you get 2Mbps. An amazing concept I know!!! So anyway, these guys are unfortunately stuck with providing proper Internet to people in condominiums where TIME has an agreement with the building management or property developer. You will most likely never hear any complaints from their users about them – except possibly that they roll out new technologies fairly slowly. Well, that’s the price they have to pay for not sucking the blood of the Malaysian public for the past 20 years.


ISPs and Contracts in a country with monopolies aplenty

I’m slightly unclear on the logic behind binding people to long (or any) contracts at all; especially when, the majority of the time, the customer has absolutely no (other) choice if he/she chooses to terminate the contract. Malaysia seems to be full of these people who seem to be unclear on what the main purpose of the contract is (beyond the obvious). In countries with an open last-mile (and as such, numerous competing ISPs in the same area), contracts tie down customers to a certain ISP for a certain amount of time… giving the ISP time to bleed make some profit from said customer over the contract period without having to worry about the customer scurrying off when another ISP offers better value. Now, over here in Malaysia… Let’s just say that Ah Kao is staying in landed property, this leaves Ah Kao with only 1 real choice (which makes it NOT a choice I guess?); Telekom Malaysia StreamyX. Now, why do I say 1 real choice? *Random shouts of P1, Amax, Maxis, DiGi* All of the aforementioned ISPs delivery method is wireless… meaning:

(a) they tend to be as reliable as Astro in Malaysia (which is basically a pile of shit but Malaysians don’t have a choice) – completely unreliable
(b) have completely retarded data caps

Any remotely heavy user (if you are heavier than a starving African child then you are a remotely heavy user) will most likely not be suited to any of the wireless ISPs… leaving StreamyX. So, Ah Kao signs up with StreamyX, but notices that there are some minor perks to signing a 2 year contract (like a free mug or something that costs the ISP almost nothing). Why lock down Ah Kao to a 2 year contract (everybody hates contracts) when it’s pretty obvious that Ah Kao has absolutely nowhere else to turn to? It’s not like Ah Kao can ring up TeliaSonera or BredBandsBolaget and get the service of an ISP that isn’t completely full of shit (like 99% of ISPs in Malaysia).

But hey, keep going ISPs in Malaysia… continue to extort money from customers in return for your subpar and overpriced services. Yes, I said subpar and overpriced… stop comparing Malaysia to Zimbabwe, Zambia, Vanuatu, Sudan, and other war torn countries and pick on any one of your direct neighbours. The half-assed opening of the last-mile will solve and improve nothing… just like 2 year contracts when no other real option exists.


The monopoly, the internet, and the prices.

So here we are heading towards the end of 2008 (almost), with the last mile still closed after some muted discussions (I had no doubt that it would stay closed). Today, I have chosen to spew forth much ranting with regards to the pricing for local internet in Malaysia. I’ve chosen to compare TMNet (largest local telco backed by government, also decided that copper throughout Malaysia which was paid for by taxpayers… was theirs) and TIMENet (my current ISP). I’ve left out the wireless providers for now, mainly because 90% of techies who are in their right mind wouldn’t go for wireless unless it was the last resort.

TIMENet pricing vs TMNet pricing

Since there isn’t really a lowest common denominator (384 unlimited vs 384 time limited), I’ve decided to compare TIMENet’s 448kbps SDSL (HomeNet Pro 448/448, RM138/month) to TMNet’s 512kbps ADSL (512/512, RM66/month). 448kbps (RM138) is TIMENet’s highest offering at the home user level as compared to 2Mbps (RM188) for TMNet (their 4Mbps package isn’t widely available at the moment). What’s with the major discrepancy in pricing?

The government (and IT related entities) continuously rant and rave about making Malaysia some kind of regional focal point for the internet… all the while ignoring the steps they could take that could easily inject rocket fuel into the proverbial bum of the lumbering buffalo that is Malaysian internet. Given that opening the last mile (obviously the best choice) would hurt the bottom line of TMNet (and thus the government who owns XX% of TMNet), it’s fairly certain that the last mile wouldn’t be opened any time soon.

What’s the next best thing? IMHO, allowing only an X% deviation from a set price for a set amount of bandwidth. TIME customers pay double what their TMNet counterparts pay for a semi-equivalent connection… and while some time ago, it could be argued that TIME provided much better quality of service, this is definitely not holding true anymore (yes, TIME is almost as bad as using a banana boat in “The Perfect Storm”). Allowing possibly a 20% deviation upwards (and no limit downwards?) would result in a TMNET 512kbps staying at RM66, while forcing TIME to sell their 448kbps connection for a maximum of approximately RM80 (or no minimum!!!???).

While the last mile continues to be closed and conveniently “owned” by TMNet, there is no reason whatsoever for the pricing to fluctuate so much between different ISPs. The government and the MCMC are doing nothing but holding back any smidgen of growth the local internet user population may be capable of… but the truth is, haven’t the government/TMNet already made enough from their “ownership” of the last mile for the last 15 years or so?