For the FINAL time, Malaysian internet speeds are NOT slow.

Average Internet SpeedsFirst off, apologies for the lack of content on the blog. I’ve been really busy at work these past few months, and content is slow moving. For instance, the previous post was a review of a router, that I tested for 4 weeks, and returned to the supplier more than a week ago–and the post only went up yesterday. To that end, my decision is to churn out my thoughts just ‘straight from the gut’ and not give this posts the usual research I typically do. Hope my regular readers will forgive the tardiness.

OK, let’s go.

Every year we get a renewed riff-raff over the internet speeds in Malaysia. Some Malaysians feel that internet speeds in Malaysia are slow, and maybe they’re right. But some Malaysians–including some reporters who should know better quote sources like Ookla and claim that Malaysian internet speeds are slower than those of Cambodia or Vietnam.

Here’s the problem, the Ookla report only churns out data based on user executed test on the popular website, where every test on the website is counted against the country. This makes Ookla a pretty decent place to get info, but if you confine yourself to merely the Ookla data, you can easily see how it can mislead your conclusions. Firstly, it assumes users with different internet speeds are testing at the same rate, secondly it is the collective average of all internet connectivity (fixed and mobile) and thirdly it doesn’t really give a good indication for a country the size of Malaysian.

More problems crop up, when you actually dive into the data (something I hope the reporters did) and you realize the way Ookla was averaging the speeds wasn’t accurate and the most important issue of all, is that most test conducted are usually between the user and closest node–meaning if you’re in KL it would try to test against a node in KL, rather than in the US. Unfortunately, the internet is geographically very distributed, and these test don’t provide us a good indication of the overall speed of connections–and more importantly how those connection speeds are distributed among the citizens in the country.

A more comprehensive way to gauge how well Malaysian internet connectivity is to take a couple of other data points besides Ookla to draw a more comprehensive picture of the true state of Malaysian internet.

For instance, you might look at the Akamai state of the internet report. Unlike Ookla that bases its data on user executed test, Akamai bases it data on actual internet traffic, and they should know because by some accounts they deliver 15-30% of global internet traffic. What does Akamai say? Well Malaysia has an average speed of 4.3Mbps, while Cambodia averages just 3.3Mbps and Vietnam 3.2Mbps. We’re still trailing Singapore and Thailand, but we’re not as bad as the Ookla data suggest. Also, Akamai report that more than 43.2% of users have a internet connection above 4Mbps (quite surprising if the average is 4.3–suggesting our median internet connection speed is also 4Mbps), while in Vietnam and Cambodia those numbers are 25% and 17% respectively.

Now of course we can’t compare to Cambodia and Thailand if we want to grow as a  ‘knowledge-based’ economy, but in reality we can’t compare to Singapore either–we are a very geographically diverse country, a lot of Malaysians draw a Malaysian map that only includes Peninsula Malaysia–forgetting we have a another part of Malaysia across the sea whose internet connectivity is nowhere near what we have in KL. So….you can’t really compare averages here, it would be completely unproductive.

Finally we have the sandvine report, which you can download from the sandvine site after you’ve registered. Sandvine provides services to various ISPs and telcos and uses that data to detail trends–they don’t provide connection speeds as part of the report, but they do break traffic down into fixed vs. mobile, and the amount of data consumes (and type of data consumed) across the different channels.

For example, in the Asia-Pacific region, the average consumption of data across a fixed is between 17-30GB of data. That’s less than half the fair usage amount advertised by TM, and a good reason to believe that TM will probably never implement such a policy.Sandvine also break down the traffic type, indicating that in our region the biggest data usage is on bit-torrent, followed by youtube. Partially expected, but think about what that means for connection speeds–if we have local youtube servers in Malaysia wouldn’t that result in better overall internet experience for Malaysian users. Better than say someone in Thailand with a faster internet connection, but having to route that to an outside country? Also bit-torrent is interesting, because your connection speed on bit-torrent is just part of the equation, you also have to rely on the bit-torrent swarm to have enough bandwidth and seeds to experience quite downloads on the protocol.

All in all, I just want to say, Malaysia is far from perfect, and I’ve got no problems bringing the government down a peg or two, maybe even three. But sometimes we just have to be honest and focus on the real issue.

The real issue in Malaysia is internet penetration, and specifically broadband penetration. Unlike you old folks (including myself these days), the younger generation of this country are using less fixed devices like PCs and Laptops, and more smartphones and tablets, and the way we use the internet is fundamentally changing. We need to up the penetration to the kampungs and rumah panjangs, and not fret too much about speeds. We also need to get cost down, which is a fundamentally different problem than getting speeds up.

I blame the media for this bullshit. The reporters of most of these news outlets, have so badly researched their stuff that geeks like me just get angry when we read them, and I know the vast majority of Malaysians have no idea of the nuances of these reports, and are just taking them on face value–the media have a fundamental responsibility to help people make sense of the data, and they have failed misreably–I’m looking at you Malaysiakini.

That’s it folks, i’m sure there are some typos and errors in the post, but any post is better than no post. Hope you enjoyed it.

Keith signing off!!

YTL has the most ridiculous Acceptable Use Policy

YTL Communications has been doing a pretty good job recently. The Star even went as far as claim that “YTL Comms to Break Even” until of course you read the article in which case it mentions that YTL require an additional 500,000 subscribers on top of it’s current 300,000 to achieve that.  However, it did offer a post-paid plan which was pretty decent, and who can forget the tie-up with Proton to offer a a 4G car. Why in the world would anyone buy a car because it has 4G, on the other hand why would anyone buy a Proton? (disclaimer: I still drive a 2004 Proton Waja which has served me well)

However, with Yes latest postpaid offerings I imagine it’s moving away from it’s niche position into more competitive environments, people may use Yes as a fallback, but post-paid is where the real money is and Yes is moving in. Yes Data plans come in various price points, from RM48 for 1.5GB up to RM168 for 10GB, the left-over credits don’t roll over to next month but there’s no extra charge for using over your quota just a speed throttle to 128kbps. (note to YES: 128Kbps is not broadband) Continue reading

SKMM on my Unifi Downtime

Did you know Malaysia has a Multimedia and Communication Commission that oversees the quality of service for telecommunications companies including the broadband services they provide. I also understand that they are the enforcers of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, with a determination on the mandatory standards for the Quality of Service (Broadband Access Service) .

In not so many words, there are actually laws in place to ensure that your broadband provider meets a minimum standard in terms of uptime and service availability.

However, after reading the a short snippet of the Act from the SKMM website here, I was surprised to find that while it did have a specific outline for the quality of service, it did not have an outline for the penalty imposed if the quality of service was not met. Continue reading

Unifi vs. Yes : The speed showdown

Alright, so my Unifi is back up and running, apparently it was an area wide network issue that caused half my town to experience a Unifi Blackout, I have thus named this debacle, the Great CNY blackout of 2012. I was left 9 days without an internet connection and was forced to reload my Yes Broadband package to go online.

Anyway, with a little credit left on my Yes broadband account, I decided to test out the speeds of Yes against my Unifi connection and see who comes up tops.

Some disclaimers before I continue, I ran this test on a Saturday morning where web-traffic shouldn’t be too high in Malaysia, and I subscribe to the 5Mbps Unifi Package and a standard Yes pre-paid package. I also decided to run 4 test per ISP, and then compare the results. First I tested against 2 local servers (Singapore considered local here), and then 1 test each to the US and Europe. I used and while the results will probably be inconclusive, it’s a good benchmark to use in case you’re wondering whose faster. Continue reading

Did an email to the CEO really help restore my Unifi services?

Just this morning I wrote about how my Unifi services went down and how I wrote a letter to what ‘appears’ to be Telekom Malaysias CEO email address.

A lot of Malaysians are skeptical that CEOs would actually respond to emails. Steve Jobs has responded to many emails personally and so has his successor Tim Cook. There have even been reports of Palm’s CEO responding to customer query and even non-tech companies like home depot doing the same.

These however are American companies, not Malaysian, would a Malaysian CEO actually respond to an email from a small-time RM150/month customer like myself? I figured why not give it a try, I was already internet-less — what more is there left to lose?  Continue reading

Unifi sucks: Here’s why

Last year I moved into my new place, and had to apply for Yes! broadband because my place wasn’t Unifi ready yet. I blogged about how much I enjoyed the Yes! experience and even recommended it to most friends and family. That little love affair however took a turn for the worst when I discovered Yes! would experience a service interruption nearly once a month and the overall design of the Yes! service was lacking. So in the end I parted ways with Yes! and subscribed to Unifi instead. Continue reading