The year after Malaysia started to recover from the pandemic, the country made leaps and bounds towards improving digital connectivity.
When the pandemic exposed how Malays in rural areas were unable to connect to the internet for work or education due to lack of connectivity, Jendela’s national digital infrastructure plan was put in place to address the gap.
One of the agendas was the decline of the 3G network. First announced in 2020, the shutdown was completed this year, paving the way to improve and expand 4G coverage through freed up spectrum.
Road to 5G
As the country expanded 4G coverage, it also began to move to the next-generation network, 5G, but ran into obstacles.
In short: The government of former Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin mandated Digital Nasional Bhd to be the only wholesale network model for 5G rollout in Malaysia.
Instead of bidding for spectrum and building their own towers, telcos had to register with DNB to access the 5G network.
The policy change caused telcos to delay 5G adoption, with many seeking more clarity on the reference access offer (RAO).
According to many reports at the time, the RAO “will not enable quality and affordable 5G services” for both individuals and businesses in Malaysia.
Concerns rose that the standoff between DNB and telcos could affect 5G rollout, but talks with telcos eventually progressed with Celcom, Digi, Telekom Malaysia, U Mobile and YTL Communications agreeing to lease the 5G network. from DNB. Since then, they started offering 5G mobile plans to consumers.
Doubts now remain, however, about the fate of DNB, as newly appointed Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the government will review plans for the state-owned 5G network, citing that it was not formulated in a transparent manner.
Speaking of telecom news, there was perhaps no bigger story than the Celcom-Digi merger.
On November 30, the CelcomDigi entity was born, emerging as the largest telecommunications company in Malaysia and is expected to serve some 20 million customers.
In a statement, CelcomDigi said it will invest in network expansion and support the growth of the digital ecosystem in Malaysia.
Theft of personal data
The country, as in previous years, was rocked by several data leaks.
In May, a data set containing the details of 22.5 million Malaysians born between 1940 and 2004 was put up for sale on the dark web for US$10,000 (RM43,950).
The seller claimed that the data was pulled from the National Registration Department (NRD) through MyIdentity, a centralized data-sharing platform used by various government agencies.
The following month, cybersecurity expert Dr. Suresh Ramasamy claimed that millions of personal records belonging to Malaysian workers were exposed on the Public-Private Covid-19 Immunization Program (Pikas) website.
Pikas is an initiative of the Ministry of Industry and International Trade (MITI).
According to Suresh, CyberSecurity Malaysia (CSM) responded to his complaint a few days later, saying that the case had been closed. The Pikas website has also been temporarily removed.
In November, reports emerged that the personal data of some 800,000 Malaysians, allegedly stolen from the MySPR site, was being offered for sale on an online forum for USD 2,000 (RM 9,240), which was later denied by the former minister of Inside Datuk Seri Hamzah. Zainudin in a report.
In light of the data breaches, experts have called for a revision of the Personal Data Protection Act 2010 (PDPA) to include a harsher penalty and expand its coverage to include government agencies, which are currently excluded.
Man of the people
On the international front, there was no escaping Tesla CEO and world’s richest man, Elon Musk, who dominated headlines with his plans to acquire Twitter.
It all started in April when Musk announced that he had bought more than 9% of Twitter’s shares, becoming its largest shareholder.
He was invited to join the board but declined, instead offering to buy the social media platform for US$44 billion (RM193.9 billion).
Twitter accepted the sweeping offer, but Musk backed down, citing concerns about the way the company handled spam or fake accounts on the site.
Musk eventually agreed to complete the acquisition after Twitter took him to court, finalizing the deal on October 27 and marking his reign with the tweet: “The bird is released.”
After becoming Twitter’s sole director, Musk fired CEO Parag Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal, Vijaya Gadde’s chief legal, policy and trustee.
He followed this up by laying off approximately 50% of the company’s 7,500 employees. Musk realized too late that he had fired too many people, at which point HR tried to bring back some of the laid off employees.
He also broke his promise not to take down an account that tracked the movements of his private jet.
The lack of moderation has led to the exodus of half of the major advertisers from the platform, while alternatives like Mastodon and Hive Social are growing as users want a Musk-free platform.
Only 2023 will tell if the bluebird will reach new heights or dive even lower.