Saturday, 25 July 2009

Malaysia revises target for broadband plan

It's about time.

When MIMOS first offered its Jaring services for connection to the Internet in the early 90s, it was limited to academicians in higher educational institutions. I was one of the fortunate few who grabbed the opportunity then.

Today, although I live in the Klang Valley and work in an institution that enables me to connect to the Internet anywhere in the University. Yet, I am still hungry for more.

Hence imagine my delight when, a few minutes ago, I stumbled upon the report saying that the nation will aim to provide broadband connection to at least 26 million mobile phone users.

As head of the mobile learning team at the University, we had first offered 1-minute podcasts of course content. Although learners had mobile phones with wireless capabilities, we discovered that even if they were able to connect ubiquitously, they were hesitant about paying extra for the cost to download.

We next focused on providing SMS messages to engage learners in the learning process. This met with greater approval as long as it was free or if the cost was minimal.

In any case, when renowned universities such as Harvard, Stanford and Berkeley have made available their lectures online (see Academic Earth)in the form of podcasts, Malaysian universities are unlikely able to do the same until the broadband connections are widely available as well as affordable, especially for the education community.

It's about time that broadband services become common place, are as inexpensive as water and electricity (although some of us will refute the latter)and as I once remembered of an earlier idea (first heard more than a decade ago), we should have web tone available through all our mobile devices. After all, for what a restaurant will charge for a family of four, one can purchase an MP4 player.

If Malaysia is serious about making the country an educational hub with institutions providing or "producing" learning, broadband services must be available nationwide to benefit every citizen in the country, among which are the 26 million (and growing) mobile phone users.

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