Connectivity and digital networks have become the top priorities for most countries as the world is increasingly moving online to engage, transact, and for daily tasks and work. With this sudden increase in dependency on telecommunications and networks, Malaysia, like many other nations, set forth on a path to strengthen its digital infrastructure. Thus, the country instituted Jalinan Digital Negara (JENDELA), a five-year national digital infrastructure plan. This article will cover the diverse aspects of JENDELA and its role in facilitating a digital economy for Malaysia.
Aspirational targets for digital connectivity with JENDELA
Envisioned as a five-year national plan, JENDELA seeks to accelerate the pace of digital transformation and bridge the digital divide in the country by facilitating connectivity and increasing its access. It aims to facilitate robust, high-quality, and affordable digital connectivity.
As a part of this plan, 3 audacious goals have been set forth which the country aspires to achieve in the five-year period from 2020-2025, including:
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The achievement of these 3 goals has been divided into 2 phases. Phase 1, from 2020-2022 is focused on boosting and optimising existing resources and infrastructure to facilitate better broadband and mobile connectivity. Phase 2, slated for 2023-2025 will focus on the transition to 5G.
Defining the need for JENDELA
The need for JENDELA came as an aftermath of twin phenomena in the backdrop of increased internet penetration. On the one hand, the demand for high-speed connectivity and network amongst the population. The country saw:
- 70% increase in internet traffic
- 70% increase in usage movement to residential areas
This was combined with gaps in network quality and service coverage, resulting in reduced efficiency in connectivity, including:
- 40% decrease in internet download speed
- 70% increase in the number of complaints
Thus, JENDELA, a national digital infrastructure plan became imperative for the country to boost digital connectivity.
JENDELA Phase 1
As mentioned above, JENDELA is being executed in two phases. The first phase which is currently has been instituted from 2020-2023. This phase seeks to achieve a major part of the goals set under JENDELA and lay a strong foundation for a robust second phase. The key targets for Phase 1 include:
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Achievements under Phase 1
The pace at which Malaysia has been progressing on its targets is commendable. In fact, the last two targets mentioned above were initially slated for Phase 2, but the accelerated progress has enabled stakeholders to advance their rollout. Some of the top achievements, as of Q3 of 2022 include:
- 7.44 million premises passed with fibre connectivity
- 95.82% 4G coverage
- 52.48 Mbps mean broadband speed
Initiatives to facilitate the achievement of JENDELA
Malaysia has set out 8 major initiatives to achieve its JENDELA goals which are being accompanied by 4 initiatives at the policy level to facilitate harmonisation and implementation.
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5G rollout in JENDELA and Phase 2
Way ahead of schedule, the country witnessed a roll out of 5G as a part of JENDELA in December 2021 with an aim to achieve a population coverage of 37.9% by 2022. At the end of Q3 of 2022, 33.2% of the population has received 5G coverage.
As a part of the Phase 2, JENDELA will focus on increasing high speed and low latency connectivity and network across densely populated areas. This phase will focus on 4G, 5G, satellite and other communication technologies expansion.
Way forward for connectivity in Malaysia
Malaysia’s progress on JENDELA has been exceptional. The initiatives are enabling the country to facilitate wider coverage, better broadband experience, and quality and paving way for unparalleled 5G connectivity. If the same pace continues, the country will find itself achieving coverage and speed beyond the set five-year targets in the national digital infrastructure, leading to robust, high quality and affordable digital connectivity.
Stay tuned to this space to know more about the latest developments and insights on the technology landscape of Malaysia and other ASEAN countries.