Though it’s rapidly advancing, Malaysia’s internet infrastructure still has room to grow. In 2017, Malaysia ranked 62nd in a ‘State of the Internet’ report from cloud service provider Akamai based on its global survey. It’s down to the slow speed and high cost
of internet services in Malaysia, though the same report also showed a 40 per cent annual increase in speed.
Into this gap has valiantly stepped Extreme Broadband (EBB), fronted by Founder and Managing Director Wong Weng Yew. EBB, a long-term provider of broadband services across Malaysia, has embarked upon its latest venture – an internet exchange in Johor Bahru, the first in Malaysia’s second-largest city.
“Leveraging its strategic location, Johor Bahru Internet Exchange (JBIX) aims to attract regional and global players to come to Malaysia to partake in the creation of an open connectivity ecosystem,” says Weng. “With JBIX, content owners can exchange traffic easily and enterprises can connect to cloud infrastructure directly. This leads to more connectivity choices and options for end users. With this comes more competition, greater demand for telco services and lower prices for end users.”
While Johor Bahru in itself is an important location for an internet exchange, JBIX also benefits from the city’s proximity to Singapore. A high proportion of Malaysian internet traffic passes through Johor Bahru en route to its neighbour, and indeed from the entire region. Service providers will therefore be able to offload traffic in Johor Bahru, easily making a savings in cost of traffic.
“With the new internet exchange, we can create a new ecosystem,” Weng said, speaking at the official JBIX launch. “New players can come in to introduce innovations that generate demand for services from local providers. Our local IT SMEs can have a level playing field to compete with the world. We fully support the aspiration of the government to bring high-quality, affordable broadband to the masses.”
As EBB has undertaken this mission, it’s been able to rely on the indispensable support of its partners. Without these partnerships, Weng acknowledges it would’ve been impossible to achieve the success EBB has enjoyed. One of the foremost examples is MyTelehaus, a data centre services provider that has provided tailor-made solutions for EBB through the good times and the tough. Sangfor, meanwhile, has facilitated EBB’s ability to support end users, helping the provider expand sixfold in the six years since the two partnered.
“Since its inception, we have valued our ties to our vendors,” Weng says. “A good vendor is not only able to supply the solution we need, they are also a source of information that helps in our business success. We picked our suppliers carefully and nurtured our relationship through mutual respect and benefit. Over the years, our vendors have helped us rollout new services, retain businesses and deliver promises to customers.”
EBB is also working alongside the government exchange, to help revolutionise Malaysia’s internet capabilities. With the opportunity to reduce costs and improve efficiency for digital businesses, Weng is encouraging industries from Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand to make use of JBIX. “It’s an important building block for a digital economy.”
Meanwhile, Weng is building on his own leadership skills. He’s taken up a training program from Harvard Business School to improve himself. He also reads books about outstanding individuals like Albert Einstein and Robert Kuok, a business magnate and the wealthiest person in Malaysia, drawing inspiration from their wisdom and perseverance.
“As a nimble player in the market, our biggest strength is our entrepreneurial spirit, which means we’re not afraid to try new ideas,” says Weng. “Since EBB’s inception 13 years ago, we have spun off many business units, expanding from our core business of providing internet services to leasing telecom infrastructure and ecommerce. All of these ventures have provided us with great lessons in shaping our future.”