SUNGAI PETANI: Kampung Batu Lintang, just 10km from Sungai Petani, is a modest village on the outskirts of town, surrounded by padi fields and lush greenery.
However, despite its proximity to a major town, high-speed internet connectivity is not something everyone here can enjoy.
Roseny Laily Shaari, 43, a housewife, said the slow internet speed and constant drop in connection affected her children’s studies during the Covid-19 lockdown.
“It was extremely difficult for them to study during the lockdown. But the problems with the internet in our area have been going on for a very long time,” she said.
The mother of two added that she had to make multiple trips just to send her children to the nearest available Wi-Fi hotspot, or even to their school, so they could complete their assignments.
Today, Roseny has a home fibre internet connection, for which she pays almost RM100 monthly, but a speed test revealed that her download speed hovers only around the 40Mbps mark.
That compares poorly with offerings by providers such as Telekom Malaysia’s Unifi, which boasts packages with speeds up to 300Mbps in the Klang Valley for RM149 per month.
Just a few metres in, near a school in Kampung Batu Lintang, a network tower stands in the middle of a padi field. Locals say the tower, built at the start of the year, is still not operational.
“The (internet and mobile network) connection has always been bad. They placed a signal tower nearby, but until today it is not working,” Najwa Ahmad said.
The 32-year-old pharmacy assistant said she has lived in the village all her life but had never felt the benefits of high-speed internet. She is on a prepaid plan which allows her a download speed of no more than 2.5Mbps.
Father of seven, Zulkifli Jamalludin, 62, is also unhappy with the internet connection in the area, saying his older children have struggled to manage their online businesses, while his younger kids were affected in their studies.
“Sometimes it is very slow or the connection is unstable. My children have had to go to a restaurant with Wi-Fi 20 minutes away just to study,” he said.
Zulkifli hopes the next state government will look into completing the signal tower soon, because the internet has become a necessity.
Nizam Rosmaini, 20, who lives in Kampung Bukit Berangan, also faces constant network disruption and said he was only able to get a stable connection at certain places in the village.
“At my house, there is no connection at all. So I have to go searching for it elsewhere,” he added.
Nizam also said there was another signal tower nearby that was incomplete, and hopes the next state government will fix it soon.