Saturday 24 Feb 2024
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This article first appeared in Digital Edge, The Edge Malaysia Weekly on September 25, 2023 - October 1, 2023

Malaysia ranked 37th out of 121 countries in overall internet quality, up a spot from last year, but dropped to 26th from 16th in the corresponding period in terms of internet affordability, according to a new report by Surfshark.

The country performed best in internet quality, claiming 13th place (from 41 in 2022); it faced challenges in electronic security (e-security), ranking 48th (from 39 in 2022). The nation’s ranking also fell in terms of e-government (from 29th spot to 32nd) and e-infrastructure (from 32nd to 33rd), says the cybersecurity company, which develops humanised privacy and security solutions, in its fifth annual Digital Quality of Life (DQL) Index.

In Asia, Malaysia took sixth place among 35 countries, behind Singapore in first place but surpassing Thailand, which took the 12th spot.

Fixed internet averaged 133Mbps in Malaysia, the report adds. To put that into perspective, the world’s fastest fixed internet, Singapore’s, was 300Mbps. Meanwhile, the slowest fixed internet in the world was Yemen’s at 11Mbps.

Since last year, mobile internet speed in Malaysia had improved by 142%, and fixed broadband speed had increased by 19%. Compared to Singapore, Malaysia’s mobile internet was 44% slower and fixed broadband was 56% slower.

Gabriele Racaityte-Krasauske, spokesperson for Surfshark, says: “In many nations, ‘digital quality of life’ has merged into the broader concept of overall ‘quality of life’. There’s no other way to look at it now that so many daily activities, including work, education and leisure, are done online. That’s why it’s crucial to pinpoint the areas in which a nation’s digital quality of life thrives and where attention is needed, which is the precise purpose of the DQL Index.”

Malaysian work more hours to afford internet

Malaysians had to work four hours 48 minutes a month to be able to afford fixed broadband internet. While this was less than average, it was 16 times more than in Romania, which had the world’s most affordable fixed internet — Romanians had to work 18 minutes a month to afford it.

Malaysians had to work 33 minutes 17 seconds a month to afford mobile internet. This is two times more than in Luxembourg, which had the world’s most affordable mobile internet. Luxembourgers had to work 16 minutes a month to afford it.

Meanwhile, Malaysia was 48th in the world in e-security, falling nine places from last year. The e-security pillar measures how well a country is prepared to counter cybercrime as well as how advanced a country’s data protection laws are.

In terms of e-security, Malaysia outperformed Singapore (56th) and Thailand (60th). Malaysia is prepared to fight cyber­crime and has data protection laws.

Malaysia ranked 33rd in e-infrastructure and 32nd in e-government. Advanced e-infrastructure makes it easy for people to use the internet for daily activities such as working, studying and shopping.

This pillar evaluates how high internet penetration is in a given country, as well as its network readiness to take advantage of information and communication technologies. Malaysia’s internet penetration was high, at 94% — putting the country at 24th place in the world; it ranked 34th in network readiness.

The e-government pillar shows how advanced a government’s digital services are and the level of artificial intelligence (AI)-readiness that a country demonstrates. Malaysia’s e-government was above the global average.

Globally, the internet was more affordable than last year. Fixed internet aawas 11% more affordable than last year — on average, people had to work 42 minutes less a month to afford it, whereas mobile internet was 26% more affordable than last year — people had to work 41 minutes less to afford it.

The DQL Index 2023 examined 121 nations (92% of the global population) based on five core pillars that consist of 14 indicators. The study is based on the UN’s open-source information, the World Bank, and other sources.

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