Are you sick and tired of the slow speed and inconsistent broadband Internet that you’ve been getting through Streamyx in Sabah? I am sure am. But did you know there’s an alternative to Streamyx in Sabah?
WiMax. You’ve probably heard of it before, so I won’t bore you with the details. Oh I can’t help myself, here are the details, prepare to get bored:
What is WiMax?
The best way to describe WiMax is that it’s similar to Wi-Fi. You know, you sit at a Starbucks, flip open your laptop and the Internet is just there. WiMax is like that too – except you can have it in your house or office.
The biggest difference is the distance at which you can connect to the Internet. Under ideal circumstances Wi-Fi has a reach of no more than 300m. However, circumstances are very rarely ideal and you can connect to the average Starbucks’ Internet from no further than 30m away, if you’re lucky.
WiMax, on the other hand, has a theoretical reach of up to 50km and a data rate of up to 70MiB per second. I say theoretical, because as this technical article on Wikipedia explains, you can have either or. Either you connect 50km away, or you can have it really fast. It’s a sliding scale. So if you want to connect from far away, you have to sacrifice speed and if you want it really fast, you have to sacrifice distance.
A real-world situation is something like 10MiB/second for everybody within a 2km radius. That’s still a hell-of-a-lot better than Streamyx’s 1MiB or 2MiB ADSL lines.
What equipment do I need, is it expensive?
There are 2 things you can do to receive WiMax. The first is a WiMax receiver box not much different looking than a Wireless ADSL modem. That would sit on your desk exactly like your ADSL modem. The second method is a box on the outside of your house the size of a laptop.
The difference? With an indoor box your WiMax signal will get polluted when it cuts through walls, wires and is interfered with by other electrical equipment in your house or office. The hardware can clean the signal, but it takes time so the connection slows down. The outside box gets a purer connection, more so if it can see the WiMax tower. So with an outdoor box your Internet will be faster.
How much does it cost? Well, of that I’m not sure yet, but from what I’ve read it will cost 40% less than Streamyx. This might only refer to monthly subscription fees and not the mula you will have to lay out for the box and/or installation.
So how do I get fast Internet access with WiMax in Sabah
That might be the good news. RedTone apparently has 25% of Sabah’s population covered already (but not connected, aha!) and, says this article, they’ve had it going since August last year!
Wow, I heard of WiMax somewhere last year, but never paid any attention to it, because they said it will only be available this year.
Of course, I’m quite excited and immediately got onto redtone.com. RedTone is one of 4 companies in Malaysia that got awarded the WiMax license, and RedTone in particular is responsible for Sabah and Sarawak. But try as I might, I couldn’t find much about WiMax in East Malaysia on their website, never mind how to subscribe to it or the costs involved.
So I thought I’d drop them an email, but lo-and-behold, there’s no email address and no contact form. Oh dear. So I called the toll-free number, but the service agent couldn’t give me any information either. He did take my contact details though and said a business manager will call me back.
That was at 5pm this afternoon, so we’ll see how quickly they respond.
The service rep also said that WiMax is not available for residential customers yet, only businesses. So we’ll see what the deal is to get a business connected with WiMax internet access.
I’m also itching to know what kind of connection speeds we’re talking about, because if WiMax really is an alternative to Streamyx, a stampede will ensue when people leave Streamyx to embrace WiMax.
But don’t cancel your Streamyx account just yet – RedTone first needs to reply my enquiry.
Update 01-02-09: Nobody, I’m sure, is suprised by the fact that, to date, RedTone has not replied my enquiry. They claimed, in the news, to be covering 25% of Sabah’s population. It seems the coverage is like the rain – it’s poring everywhere, but nobody’s actually out standing in it.