(That Thing I Do)

A Positive Change

Once upon a time I subscribed for an internet service plan. After some hitches, their customer service managed to iron out the kinks for me and I had access to the internet, just like everybody else.

Then I moved. The area was “within coverage”. However after a month of being instructed to reposition my modem every single day, I’d not managed to get anything close to an acceptable level of internet connection service. On the rare days that I do get a workable internet connection, it usually doesn’t last more than a few hours. Other times, I would not even be connected. My frustration was only compounded by the fact that the “solution” provided was to reposition my modem and wait for the customer service to “get back to me”.

After much fury was unleashed upon my internet service provider (ironic that I call them that, since I’ve been receiving no actual internet service), they finally sent an engineer to install an outdoor modem to rectify my problem. After running diagnostics, they found that despite being within coverage area, I was doomed to have only a somewhat-usable internet connection when pretty much nobody else in the area was accessing the internet.

I’d shopped around for alternatives, but those that were reputed to be fast and reliable did not serve my area, and those that did were a gamble. Then I heard a whisper of hope.

   [The contents of this comic are not meant to be taken literally]  

Dubbed ” YES ” by YTL Communications , the brand conveys an image of positive hope and change – what every internet-enabled (or internet-trying-to-be-enabled) Malaysian has been clamoring for for the longest time. Everyone is the “fastest”, “most affordable” and has the “widest coverage”. Promises. It always starts with promises. This could be the start of a whole new era of internet in Malaysia.

Instead of connecting to the Internet using a technology designed for voice communications, this new service is designed from the ground up specifically for high speed data, which will also be voice-enabled. The idea sounds… novel. I’m not without my skepticism, but it doesn’t worry me. If voice works as well on this supposedly seamless data network, that’s all fine and dandy, but that’s just cream. The real cake is the idea of having internet speeds fast enough to upload my heavy volumes of photos wherever I am. I imagine myself uploading all my photographs to my Flickr account on a daily basis when I’m holidaying around the country and not having to worry about the limited space on my memory cards. Now, that’s something I’m excited about.

YTLC is not stopping at merely breaking the convention of internet speeds and coverage that we’ve been force-fed into being accustomed to, but they’re also breaking the pricing model. This scares me to the bone because it will be pay-as-you-use pricing model, though it is promised that it should be “cheaper” for most of us. My best guess is a tiered model where the marginal cost diminishes as you use more. Scary. I now sit and wait for my worries to be dispersed when I (hopefully) discover really how affordable the pricing model is (which will be on November 19th).

Among the unique offerings that will be available are special mobile phones (an Android model is in the works) that can run on the network without using any SIM cards and only requiring the user to log in instead. Other more conventional offerings include devices to enable the user to connect using a USB device or through a portable Wi-Fi base. The idea of being able to connect anywhere is nothing new, but until now, it has always been in a very limited coverage area and at unenviable speeds.

But still, it’s all promises, and while I am hopeful, I remain cautious. However without the long-term commitment plans and recurring fixed fees, it would seem there’s little to really lose, and everything to gain.

If YTLC manages to live up to these promises, it will be a real positive change for us as Malaysians. I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt, mostly because YTL group of companies is a behemoth of a corporation and you don’t get there by making promises that you can’t fulfill.

Yes, this is what I’ve been waiting for.

But no, they don’t sell iPhones.