I have received a report from my IT Manager Goh Kheng Teong on his meeting at a TM Customer Engagement convened by Telekom Malaysia last Friday on July 31, 2009 in Bangsar following his constant badgering of Telekom Malaysia with complaints about atrocious Streamyx service with little results.
The Engagement was attended by seven customers and some 30 TM staff led by Jeremy Kung, Executive Vice President, Consumer and Chief Executive Officer of TM Net Sdn. Bhd.
I find Goh’s report of great public importance if Malaysia is get out of the information black-hole as a result of snail-pace broadband to join the ranks of super-fast broadband nations and be among the front band of internationally competitive nations.
I have decided therefore to make Goh’s report public to initiate a public debate to ensure that Telekom Malaysia is not allowed to abuse its monopoly position to impede Malaysia’s long-delayed quantum leap to become an information and communications technology power.
This is the relevant parts of Goh’s report on his meeting with TM staff in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur on July 31, 2009:
Jeremy Kung, Executive Vice President, Consumer & Chief Executive Officer of TM Net Sdn Bhd started presentation on overview of TM Net position in the market and continue on to explain the architecture of Streamyx from a very high level perspective. In the presentation also, he explains the plans of TM Net such as improving customer service, providing information to customers on PC maintenance and Fair Usage Policy in the pipeline.
Among the statistics presented that caught my attention were Internet penetration by user is only 6.1% (per population). Internet penetration by household is over 30%. And TM Net owns the lion share at 75% of the market.
The other statistics which sticks was the proportion of fault caused by customer vs. TM Net. In June 2009, 31% fault of customer and the rest was TM Net fault. June 2009 sees an increased of fault caused by TM Net compared to December 2008 as presented by Jeremy Kung.
A customer who participated seek to clarify whether it is true that most of the time fault lies at TM Net side. The staff present confirmed the figures. Which draw comments from other participating customers on modus operandi of TM Net call centre that lay blame on the customers first before anything else. Later on some one highlighted that he was asked to format his computer to improve his Streamyx speed.
During the presentation on Fair Usage Policy, which TM Net says they are studying and finding the right tweak for the network before implementing. At this juncture, I asked what is TM Net's International Bandwidth per customer (kbps/customer). A long explanation without going into specific about how TM Net use some formula to have certain level of bandwidth for customers.
After repeated request for information on available International Bandwidth per customer (IBPC) which is an international measurement parameter on broadband, the staff who explained on behalf of Jeremy Kung says they are unable to divulge the information. Which was retorted by me that this is an international measurement parameter and it is freely available for countries like Thailand and Indonesia. The final response was that the information are surveys done by third party and they do not have the data. Which I accepted in order not to prolong and sidetrack the whole exercise.
After my query on IBPC, the other customers built on the point of “speed not enough” started the volleys of complaints. A customer who subscribed to 4Mbps package have local connection of 7Mbps. However, international speed was still very bad. Case in point given was the constant and very long buffering of youtube videos.
He emphasised that there's no quality of speed given by Streamyx. Which he elaborated as no consistency of speed.
Among other issues brought up was the discrimination of users according to IP address family. This lead to the discussion of slow connections between 9am to 5pm. Customers claim that during these hours, TM Net have signed agreement with some banks, such as Standard Charted guaranteed bandwidth.
TM Net staff went on the defensive and says that banks are on special package which cost a bomb. Which of course not only does not satisfy those who were present but also turn the heat up a few notches.
The discussion then developed into the point of network neutrality. I argued that regardless of what package we paid for, the data packets must be treated equal. Which is not the case now. And I claimed that TM Net murdered network neutrality before there's even any public discourse on it.
Further point which was raised relating to quality of speed is that TM Net does not have enough International Bandwidth to support its current customer base. And that TM Net has oversold their available International Bandwidth to corporate customers such as the banks and other ISPs such as P1 Wimax.
Almost all the customers present were subscribers to 2Mbps and above. Many upgraded their packages from 1Mbps to 2 or 4 Mbps thinking that that would solve their woes of slow connection. And unanimously it was not the case.
At this juncture, I took the opportunity to air my case, that my 4Mbps package was slower than my brother's 512kbps package as claimed by him. I also provided copies of speedtest print-outs to 22 destinations all over the world as proof of the state of connection.
Most of the discussion (discontentment) was with speed provided by Streamyx. Unanimously all the customers present felt that the arrival of HSBB will not solve the problem. All the customers present also point out that they are not a customer of TM Net by choice. And given a choice, they would not subscribed to Streamyx.
Another specific issue brought up was, the response of TM Net over complaints filled at the end of the week. If the complaints were filed on Thursday, it will only be addressed by next Monday noon time. The customer said this cost him a lot of international business over the weekend.
The final specific issue which I brought up was the collection of RM88.00 for upgrade installation of Streamyx package. In the present of Jeremy Kung, the staff in charge clarified that there is no installation charge for existing customers who wants to upgrade. And whoever have been charged RM88 for installation during upgrade should contact TM Net as soon as possible.
As a conclusion, the exercise was successful as only to the extent that customer could air their views and complaints direct to the CEO, Jeremy Kung. However, throughout, the responses from TM Net staffs were defensive and provided no promises or solutions.
As far as I am concerned, the only way to save Malaysia from going down the information black-hole and continue to drop behind the rest of the world is a full and complete liberalisation of Internet service from end to end, viz. International Landing Rights, Local Exchange, Last Mile Copper/ Fibre. TM Net could not and will not change as long as there's no competition.
Telekom Malaysia owes Malaysians and the country more satisfactory and acceptable answers to the many issues raised.
If there is no significant improvements in the TM performance and streamyx services, DAP and Pakatan Rakyat MPs will ask for a meeting with the top TM leadership.
Why is the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and the Minister for Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Rais Yatim so passive and even indifferent in allowing Telekom Malaysia to fail in its national mission to catapult Malaysia into the forefront of ICT nations as promised by former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad when he launched the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) more than a decade ago?
I call on Rais to give his personal attention to the unsatisfactory answers on all the important issues raised as he will have to answer to Parliament both for Telekom Malaysia’s failure as well as his Ministry’s failure to exercise proper supervision and monitoring of Telekom Malaysia’s monopoly position and streamyx services.