If you live in Kota Kinabalu, or anywhere in east Malaysia really, you will know that, compared to the rest of Malaysia, the Internet speed sucks. And that’s on a good day.
For many years we’ve had to look west to see how good our fellow Netizens in west Malaysia have it.
In 2001 Streamyx became popular, and I think it arrived in Sabah only about 2 years later. For the longest time we could only longingly read about this fast Internet in articles that downloaded at almost 56kbps over noisy modems.
Then, after the snappy 1MB (best effort, never happened) Streamyx ADSL finally arrived in Kota Kinabalu, we jumped on it like rats in a flood onto a piece of driftwood. Soon it was irrelevant how fast the connection was, the question became – ‘how many people were using it’.
The World Speeds Up. Sabah? Not So Much
As the world evolved, so did west Malaysia’s broadband. DSL, extra fast broadband and WiMax appeared in KL and surrounds.
In 2008 P1 WiMax started deliver high speed wireless Internet to the Klang Valley. It was blazing in comparison to what had come before.
Then in 2010 TM Net brought UniFi online – fibre optics – speed of light Internet (well, sort of) – the future of the Internet.
Watching streaming movies became a reality, reports of people downloading entire movies in minutes, and nowadays – TV via the Internet.
What did Sabah get? 4mb (still best effort, still never happens) Streamyx “upgrades”.
Oh, there was some fanfare in January 2009 when a company called RedTone brought WiMax to Sabah. I excitedly tried to contact them to sign up for this great new service, but I hit a dead end back then, had to get Internet, signed up for Streamyx again.
Until today, I personally don’t actually know one single private person that is subscribed to RedTone. I’ve heard rumours of a friend’s company subscribed to it, but have never read any reviews or feedback about them. On top of that, they used to be more expensive than Streamxy – for the same speed and without a landline.
The difference was only RM20 (back then, I think now they are cheaper), but who wants the same speed, no phoneline and the hassle of the switch for a more expensive price?
But How Wide Is the Tunnel Anyway?
Who provides the Internet access is actually irrelevant. According to a YouTube test I did the other day, Sabah’s Internet speed – on average – is 25% of the average of the entire Malaysia.
So in RedTone Sabah gained another Internet provider, but did we get more Internet, or are they just distributing the same amount we had before?
Currently our (land-based) Internet is coming via Brunei, where 2 Internet cables land.
The SEA-ME-WE, a 960 Gb/ps cable landing in 39 countries, and AAG (Asia-American-Gateway) a 2.88 Tb/ps cable landing in 10 other countries. How much capacity Sabah gets on these cables is a hard-to-find information. (stats from Greg’s map).
Quality Provider From West Malaysia?
Earlier last month I stumbled across a news report telling of a provider from west Malaysia having invested heavily to bring the next generation WiMax (LTE – sometimes called 4G) to Sabah.
P1. These guys are like the AirAsia of Internet access. They had humble beginnings in KL in 2008 and these days are one of the big names when it comes to Internet access.
And that’s how I know about them – through friends in KL who has had exceptional experiences with them, both speed and service.
So anyway, according to that Press Release, P1 injected RM30 million into Sabah to expand their pioneering broadband business here.
Just what we need! Hell, even if they can’t up the speed, I look forward to just dealing with a company who obviously cares about its customers.
The release did say, however, that things will start by quarter 2, and as that has come and gone, it’s unlikely that it will happen so soon.
Attempts to cajole a more definite answer out of their Twitter accounts have been playfully thwarted. Makes me all the more eager.
Nevertheless, whenever P1 is ready for business, you can bet that I’ll be first in the queue to sign up. Bring on the speed. Bring on the service!