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Bringing Telecom Industry Up To Speed

Less than a week into the job and the newly-appointed Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) chairman is not wasting time stamping the commission’s presence in regulating the telecommunications industry.

Al-Ishsal Ishak, who was appointed on Oct 1, said he would take action against some players that have breached rules.

I am about to sign letters that would send warnings, some fines and ask licencees to explain some breaches that were committed in the past.

“The breaches are over apparatus assignment, approvals not being obtained to use certain spectrum, the proof of concept being extended beyond the normal timeframe, and some other issues including renewals,” Al-Ishsal told StarBiz.

“It is a normal thing. I told our officers that we have to raise the flags, we have to be timely in our approach, judicious and fair.”Al-Ishsal said the letters were overdue as the commission has been without a chairman since July 1 and it has the intention to continue to drive the industry forward.

“There were reasons for things to happen. We do not judge but instead we will engage with the players and solicit inputs before we impose fines or penalties,” he said.

Since taking on the job, he has been busy learning the ropes in the telecommunications sector and there are plans to meet the licencees next week.

Al-Ishsal’s hands are full as there are many issues pending and the industry affects people and businesses. Whatever he does, he has to make sure that the government’s objective of providing high-speed fixed broadband across the nation is achieved.

The entire framework including the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 is under review, a process started by the Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo four months ago.

MCMC has done a lot and it will be celebrating its 20th anniversary next month.“We have been the forerunner of the regulatory framework but a review of every aspect of the Act to make it current and future-proof is vital and we are reviewing some of the drafts,” he said.

Given the threats of the cyber space as technology advances, he said convergence of the regulatory framework as well as converging of the various agencies are necessary to protect consumer interest, borders and the legitimacy of the economy.

He believed that “engaging and collaborating” with all the parties be it his team at MCMC, the industry players or the supporting industries was necessary to achieve the government’s objective.

While MCMC has its own processes laid out over the years, he felt some fine tuning was necessary.

As the role of the regulator become more important and relevant in the digital economy, it has to be brought to speed of the market, and evolve the current framework to suit the times.

While Gobind is clear in his focus of where the telecommunications industry is headed, the MCMC is a key body to help support and drive the initiatives, according to Al-Ishsal.

On spectrum, he delved into harmonisation based on supply and demand and expectations.

“We have to look into who has spectrum and is not optimising it and those who do not have enough. It is a national asset and by not optimising, it may be affecting our ability to provide quality services,” he pointed out. Al-Ishsal mandate is “do things right and keep it relevant.” – The Star Online

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