Penang Internet Exchange: Accelerating the State’s Digital Drive

By Kevin Vimal

April 2024 FEATURE
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DIGITALISATION HAS BEEN a subject of interest for Penang’s leaders and stakeholders, and faster connectivity continues to be a pressing need.

According to the Penang Quarterly Statistics Q4 published by Penang Institute a decade ago, the broadband penetration rate per 100 households was at 68.9%. [1] By 2022, 99.2% of Penang citizens are internet users, connecting via various devices. According to the findings by PayNet, Penang is leading the nation with a 90% penetration rate of digital payments as of October 2023.

In line with Penang2030’s Theme D, i.e., to invest in the built environment to improve resilience and the D2 strategic initiative to strengthen mobility, connectivity and digital infrastructure, Penang Internet Exchange (PIX), powered by DE-CIX was launched on 5 January, this year.

It stands as a new commitment to make Penang the preferred digital hub in the region. A collaborative effort between Digital Penang and DE-CIX Malaysia, sponsored by PDC Telecommunications Services, PIX underscores the commitment of the Penang state government to foster strategic partnerships between the public and private sectors.

Now, who are these key players collaborating to provide faster and more affordable Internet connectivity rates to Penang? Digital Penang was established to accelerate the capturing of the benefits of the digital economy while promoting a digitally engaged society. PDC Telco constructs, owns and leases telecommunication infrastructure across Penang and other Malaysian states. The non-government-linked entity here is DE-CIX, the world’s leading operator of Internet exchanges, which currently operates in 50 locations across Europe, North America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

During the grand launch that took place at Jen by Shangri-La Hotel, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, who was joined by Minister of Digital Gobind Singh Deo, described PIX as a digital tapestry that carries the vital role of empowering citizens, and acts as a catalyst for innovation, economic growth and infrastructure development in the state.

“The strategic localisation of internet traffic exchange within Penang is poised to reduce network latency for internet users and ensure a faster online experience for all Penangites,” he said.

Before PIX, Internet traffic within the state was primarily channelled through exchanges in KL, Johor and Singapore, one of them being Malaysia Internet Exchange (MyIX). This industry-driven non-profit entity ensures smooth Internet connection to the end user. Without it, the data connection would have to travel through international Internet traffic. Though technology has improved since MyIX’s inception almost two decades ago, the introduction of PIX will enable Internet traffic localisation for Penang, reducing application network latency between participating networks.

“In the digital world, it is neither the biggest nor strongest that wins but the small, the smart and the nimble who wins by being adaptable. Size or location no longer restricts us. Embracing digital extends our boundaries and taps into the global value chain,” Chow said in his speech before taking part in the PIX launching ceremony.

Gobind, meanwhile, gave assurance that his ministry will embark on utilising artificial intelligence (AI) technology in various government agencies to elevate the quality of services to citizens. It holds the potential to stimulate the adoption of Industry 4.0 (IR4.0), virtual reality (VR) and the Internet of Things (IoT).

A more pressing question, however, seeing that inflation is on the rise, would be, “Will the local population be seeing a significant decrease in the cost of Internet subscription?” We shall wait and see.



Kevin Vimal

believes that writing has the power to unfold many amazing things in this world.