Malaysia to see greater digital connectivity through Jendela – MIDA

The RM21bil national digital infrastructure plan, Jalinan Digital Negara (Jendela) was designed to steer Malaysia towards greater digital connectivity by boosting the efficiency of the national infrastructure and optimising spectrum usage.

In August, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that the Jendela action plan, which is part of the 12th Malaysia Plan (2021-2025), would lay the foundation for comprehensive and high-quality broadband coverage as well as prepare the country for the transition towards 5G technology.

Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) chairman Dr Fadhlullah Suhaimi Abdul Malek said the tender for infrastructure works at 1,661 sites involving an investment value of Rm4.6bil under Jendela would be closed on March 31, 2021.

He said Jendela has two phases, where Phase 1 is executed from 2020 to 2022 and Phase 2 from 2022-2025.

Phase one entails enabling as many as 7.5 million premises with gigabit speed fixed-line broadband; expanding 4G mobile coverage from 91.8% to 96.8% in populated areas; and upgrading mobile broadband speed from 25Mbps to 35Mbps, and concerns gradual retirement of 3G networks by the end of 2021.

Phase two involves utilising fixed-wireless access and other fit-for-purpose technologies to address further gaps in the digital divide while priming for the eventual adoption of 5G once plans in phase one are achieved.

Nokia managing director for Malaysia and Sri Lanka, Datuk Sivananthan Shanmugam, said the Jendela initiative highlights the government’s commitment to develop the infrastructure needed to facilitate broader coverage of the current generation wireless technology across the nation, which in turn, would help to expedite the 5G roll-out in the near future.

“For mobile network operators, the Map will be especially useful for them to seek opportunities to optimise their resources through infrastructure sharing ventures, as well as reducing operator overlaps and duplication in order to improve nationwide broadband coverage,” he told Bernama.

Of the Rm21bil budgeted for Jendela, 40% is derived from MCMC’S Universal Service Provision (USP) funds with the remaining 60% to be funded by industry players.

MCMC will help to manage the delivery of Jendela’s targets by telecommunication companies through setting up a Specialised Project Management Service unit to closely monitor industry progress with respective managements and provide solutions to resolve any hiccups.

In a note, Kenanga Research said existing market leaders such as Celcom, Digi, Maxis and U Mobile would likely spearhead the target of achieving the national coverage of 96.8% by 2022, while the fibre network expansion of up to 7.5 million premises would likely be helmed by broadband leaders such as TM, Timedotcom and Maxis.

While the nation is looking forward to successful implementation of the 5G spectrum, Communications and Multimedia Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said the government has pledged commitment to roll out 5G technology by the end of 2022 or early 2023, with connectivity being one of its top priorities.

He said the implementation of the 5G network project included availability in terms of connectivity, people’s readiness to receive the network, as well as regulatory and industries’ preparedness.

“In terms of connectivity, it is useless if we have 5G in some areas when even 4G or others are not available in the rural and interior areas. There ought to be availability of access to avoid the digital divide.

“On industry accessibility, we expect 70% of 5G deployment will be for the use of industries while the remaining 30% will be among the general public,” he added. 

A debate over 5G shows how misinformation has made its way to the highest level of Government (Opinion)

Michael Jensen is a senior research fellow at the University of Canberra’s Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis. This article is republished from NiemanLab.

“Fake news” is not just a problem of misleading or false claims on fringe websites, it is increasingly filtering into the mainstream and has the potential to be deeply destructive.

My recent analysis of more than 500 public submissions to a parliamentary committee on the launch of 5G in Australia shows just how pervasive misinformation campaigns have become at the highest levels of government. A significant number of the submissions peddled inaccurate claims about the health effects of 5G.

These falsehoods were prominent enough the committee felt compelled to address the issue in its final report. The report noted that “community confidence in 5G has been shaken by extensive misinformation preying on the fears of the public spread via the internet, and presented as facts, particularly through social media.”

This is a remarkable situation for Australian public policy — it is not common for a parliamentary inquiry to have to rebut the dodgy scientific claims it receives in the form of public submissions.

While many Australians might dismiss these claims as fringe conspiracy theories, the reach of this misinformation matters. If enough people act on the basis of these claims, it can cause harm to the wider public.

In late May, for example, protests against 5G, vaccines, and Covid-19 restrictions were held in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. Some protesters claimed 5G was causing Covid-19 and the pandemic was a hoax — a “plandemic” — perpetuated to enslave and subjugate the people to the state.

Misinformation can also lead to violence. Last year, the FBI for the first time identified conspiracy theory-driven extremists as a terrorism threat.

Conspiracy theories that 5G causes autism, cancer and COVID-19 have also led to widespread arson attacks in the UK and Canada, along with verbal and physical attacks on employees of telecommunication companies.

The source of conspiracy messaging

To better understand the nature and origins of the misinformation campaigns against 5G in Australia, I examined the 530 submissions posted online to the parliament’s standing committee on communications and the arts.

The majority of submissions were from private citizens. A sizable number, however, made claims about the health effects of 5G, parroting language from well-known conspiracy theory websites.

A perceived lack of “consent” (for example, herehere, and here) about the planned 5G roll-out featured prominently in these submissions. One person argued she did not agree to allow 5G to be “delivered directly into” the home and “radiate” her family.

To connect sentiments like this to conspiracy groups, I looked at two well-known conspiracy sites that have been identified as promoting narratives consistent with Russian misinformation operations — the Center for Research on Globalization (CRG) and Zero Hedge.

CRG is an organization founded and directed by Michel Chossudovsky, a former professor at the University of Ottawa and opinion writer for Russia Today.

CRG has been flagged by NATO intelligence as part of wider efforts to undermine trust in “government and public institutions” in North America and Europe.

Zero Hedge, which is registered in Bulgaria, attracts millions of readers every month and ranks among the top 500 sites visited in the U.S. Most stories are geared toward an American audience.

Researchers at RAND have connected Zero Hedge with online influencers and other media sites known for advancing pro-Kremlin narratives, such as the claim that Ukraine, and not Russia, is to blame for the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

How it was used in parliamentary submissions

For my research, I scoured the top posts circulated by these groups on Facebook for false claims about the health threats posed by 5G. Some stories I found had headlines like “13 reasons 5G wireless technology will be a catastrophe for humanity” and “Hundreds of respected scientists sound alarm about health effects as 5G networks go global.

I then tracked the diffusion of these stories on Facebook and identified 10 public groups where they were posted. Two of the groups specifically targeted Australians — Australians for Safe Technology, a group with 48,000 members, and Australia Uncensored. Many others, such as the popular right-wing conspiracy group QAnon, also contained posts about the 5G debate in Australia.

To determine the similarities in phrasing between the articles posted on these Facebook groups and submissions to the Australian parliamentary committee, I used the same technique to detect similarities in texts that is commonly used to detect plagiarism in student papers.

The analysis rates similarities in documents on a scale of 0 (entirely dissimilar) to 1 (exactly alike). There were 38 submissions with at least a 0.5 similarity to posts in the Facebook group 5G Network, Microwave Radiation Dangers and other Health Problems and 35 with a 0.5 similarity to the Australians for Safe Technology group.

This is significant because it means that for these 73 submissions, 50% of the language was, word for word, exactly the same as the posts from extreme conspiracy groups on Facebook.

The impact of misinformation on policymaking

The process for soliciting submissions to a parliamentary inquiry is an important part of our democracy. In theory, it provides ordinary citizens and organizations with a voice in forming policy.

My findings suggest Facebook conspiracy groups and potentially other conspiracy sites are attempting to co-opt this process to directly influence the way Australians think about 5G.

In the pre-internet age, misinformation campaigns often had limited reach and took a significant amount of time to spread. They typically required the production of falsified documents and a sympathetic media outlet. Mainstream news would usually ignore such stories and few people would ever read them.

Today, however, one only needs to create a false social media account and a meme. Misinformation can spread quickly if it is amplified through online trolls and bots.

It can also spread quickly on Facebook, with its algorithm designed to drive ordinary users to extremist groups and pages by exploiting their attraction to divisive content.

And once this manipulative content has been widely disseminated, countering it is like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube.

Misinformation has the potential to undermine faith in governments and institutions and make it more challenging for authorities to make demonstrable improvements in public life. This is why governments need to be more proactive in effectively communicating technical and scientific information, like details about 5G, to the public.

Just as nature abhors a vacuum, a public sphere without trusted voices quickly becomes filled with misinformation.

Prized 700MHz spectrum awarded without open tender

PETALING JAYA: The long-awaited and much-sought-after 700MHz spectrum was dished out mid-last month to five telecoms players without any open tender process.

Notice was via a Ministerial Order (Directive No 4) dated May 15 on the spectrum allocation, which is a major allotment, was tucked away in the legal section of the regulator’s website, which many nearly missed.

Three of the five celcos – Celcom Axiata Bhd, Bhd and Maxis Bhd – were allotted 2x10MHz bands of the 700MHz band, while Telekom Malaysia Bhd and Altel Communications Bhd got 5MHz bands each.

Apart from the 700MHz band, Altel was also allotted 2x5MHz of the 900MHz band as per the Ministerial Directive No 5.

However, U Mobile, the fourth-largest mobile player, seems to have been left out of this allocation. So is YTL Communications Sdn Bhd, even though it is a known fact in the industry that the latter has been using 2x5MHz of the 700MHz spectrum for some time now.

The 700MHz band consists the 2x45MHz band. With this allocation and including the YTL’s band usage, the entire spectrum band has been allotted.

“Many are surprised that Altel got a bite but U Mobile was left out and only the Communications and Multimedia Minister will know the reasons best for such an allocation, ’’ said an industry executive.

This also means that the plan to set up a consortium for spectrum assignment by the previous government for the 5G rollout no longer applies he said.In January 2020, industry regulator the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) in the final report said 700MHz, 3.5GHz and 26/28GHz were pioneer bands for 5G and will not be allocated to individual licensees.

It then said the bands would be awarded on a tender process to reduce capital expenditure costs and prevent the duplication of infrastructure when improvements to 4G LTE networks are being implemented.

“It is a surprise that a major spectrum allocation was done so quietly since for years, the players have been waiting for this award. It is equally surprising that there is no open tender bid for players to slug it out.

“Now the players will be made to pay for the spectrum and the amount should be higher than the existing spectrum since it is a prized band, ’’ said another industry executive.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah in the directive said “the commission will take immediate action under the act and laws on relevant subsidiaries to implement the spectrum assignment to all licence holders that have been mentioned in Section 4 of this order”.

He added in the directive that the granting of such spectrum ranges comes with terms and conditions, and that he reserves the right to change, alter or cancel the order.

The ‘Internet Of Things’ Is Taking Over (Opinion)

Written by Chris Garrod – a partner at Conyers Dill & Pearman with opinions on digital transformation including AI, legaltech, insurtech, IoT, blockchain, crypto and fintech

On February 9th, 2018, Apple suddenly woke up and finally released the HomePod.

What is it? It plays music and, assuming your house and all its gadgets are connected using Apple’s HomeKit ecosystem, it will let you control them via Apple’s intelligent assistant, Siri. It can tell you what the weather or news will be, and it will answer [possibly] whatever other random questions you think of. It can turn off your lights or air-conditioning. And other…. stuff.

If you have an iPhone, you’ll know what Siri is – basically say “Hey Siri, play XYZ” and then pray what the results might be. There are other competitors to HomePod already, primarily Amazon’s Echo, which is powered by its Alexa voice assistant and Google Home which uses Google Assistant.

We live in an IoT world

The Internet of Things or IoT. If you don’t really know what that means, I can assure you, it is revolutionizing your life and the way you live, even if you don’t realize it.

Do you have a smartphone? A fitness wearable such as a FitBit or an Apple Watch? If so, you’re part of the Internet of Things, a term – perhaps badly named – which simply refers to the ability of devices which are connected over the internet, all contributing information from each other into some form of database for a particular reason.

Using a fitness wearable as a simple example. You wear it. It measures your steps, how many floors you’ve climbed, how much you sleep.  Depending on your activity or willingness to lose weight, you may log how much you eat each day into a program which is connected to your wearable’s smartphone app. You may run and have a special heart-rate strap if your wearable doesn’t already measure it.

You may even have a Bluetooth connected scale which logs your weight and that information is then absorbed into the same database. That information can get posted online somewhere onto a social media network where you can compete with your friends. All of those devices talk to each other and combine into one database over the internet which has been specifically designed for basically one thing – improving and monitoring your health and fitness.

So, the IoT.  Perhaps you’ll have a fridge that will let you know on your smartphone when you need to replace items which have spoiled and send an alert to you when you are grocery shopping. Wait, you don’t already?  Go back two years.

Companies in various industries are devoting a large amount of resources and money to invest in IoT technology, so much so that it has become mainstream in many sectors, such as manufacturing and transportation.

In essence, it is the process of digital transformation – that is to say, transforming the physical world into one big digital one.

The beauty of it all

Other than smart fridges and fitness trackers, there are so many new products and innovations, it is impossible to summarize them all here. Yes, people joke about smart toasters and coffee machines but the IoT certainly makes everyone’s lives genuinely smarter and easier.

Right now, the smart home industry is the nexus of the industry and where it is all happening.  Companies across the globe are positioning themselves and trying to takeover this portion of the market.  Companies like Samsung, Lutron, Nest and Honeywell have been in the market for years, to be joined by groups such as Amazon, Google and now Apple, the latter three simply creating hubs/voice assistants which interface with actual automation systems [such as Lutron or Honeywell].  Smart homes can be programmed so that air-conditioning can come on at certain times of the day to cool/heat your home before you get home or lighting to come on at certain times. Voice assistants can read the news to you in the morning or play music, change tracks, volume etc while driving.  And yes, coffee can be made for you.

But the Internet of Things isn’t limited to just home automation. It is worldwide connectivity.  People to people, people to things and, of course, things to things.

Waze, the driving app is a great example of the IoT.  As described on their website, Waze “is powered and used by drivers all over the world. Drivers connect to one another and work together to improve each other’s driving experience. As a community-based traffic and navigation app, Waze was created as a social navigation tool for private cars.”  It is a social app – you plug into the app where you are, where you are going and, using GPS and it being able to then work out your location, how fast or slow you are moving, etc, it will send out alerts regarding how heavy or light the traffic is to others travelling the same route.  It is smart, growing smarter the more people use it, has very few limitations and is exactly how to run an IoT business.

Smart Cities

Dubai is a good example of where things may ultimately be heading.  Smart cities are those that in the future use the IoT effectively and efficiently to manage both assets and resources.  For example, the ability to improve a city’s energy use, its public transport, security, reduction of waste. With one of the highest penetration rates of smartphone usages in the world, Dubai’s ambition isn’t just to be a model smart city with government services being delivered to its citizens digitally, but its ambition is to be “the happiest city on earth” as a result of it. A public/private collaboration, it wishes to deliver over 1,000 “smart services” by 2021.   Interestingly, though not surprisingly, as part of that strategy, Dubai also aims to have the world’s first “blockchain-powered government”, one which entirely stores its data in its own secure, decentralized digital blockchain network.

The future of IoT

So, we are increasingly becoming connected and eventually we will live in cities which are also digitally operated. Virtually endless opportunities are possible, many of which we have yet to comprehend or consider.

But there are challenges and the two main issues which the average person faces being part of a such a connected network are privacy and security.

Although we are not quite yet heading towards some kind of Orwellian dystopia, one can see the pressures upon basic privacy and concerns regarding the security of information which IoT presents. Being part of it, you are basically giving up a lot of personal information to third parties. What TV shows you watch, your spending habits, how often you walk, what you weigh, are you married, do you have kids, what your potential income is…. the list goes on. The question to ask is that by giving up that information, will that data stay private and will companies ensure it is secure? By opening up your home and the ability to control your coffee machine from your bed, are you also inadvertently exposing your entire network to third party hackers, and all of your personal information?  The ways companies are able to securely and responsibly store the information they obtain from users are critical matters which must be dealt with in the IoT world.

But the excitement really is now coming to a head.  With the onset of the “fourth industrial revolution” and the seeping of IoT, artificial intelligence, automation, blockchain, robotics, big data and machine learning into both work and home, we are now well beyond the tipping point: digital transformation will be the driving force of our lives for years to come.

So the HomePod has just come out.  The Amazon Echo came out in 2015.  The Google Home in late 2016.  It feels like Apple is really late to a party.  But actually, they’re not, and that’s because the party is really just beginning.

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