Government bodies across Asia have long recognised that information – and most particularly the highspeed and seamless delivery of such information to the populace – is the key to prosperity and improved standards of living. Across the region, we are seeing national information communication technology (ICT) strategies being developed, refined, and deployed. A prime case-in-point is the significant ICT goals outlined in Malaysia’s Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP), which was unveiled in March 2006. Within the 9MP is the National Strategic Framework for Bridging the Digital Divide (BDD), which sets out to “expand the communications network to ensure more equitable access to information and services”.

The challenge Malaysia faces in the ICT sector is formidable. It currently has an overall computer penetration of 21.8% of households, with Internet dial-up penetration at 13.9% and broadband penetration at 1.9%. It is important to note that in Malaysia’s rural regions – where Internet connectivity is often rare or non-existent – this computer penetration figure falls to around 9% of households.

Malaysia is not the only country in the region targeting an order of magnitude escalation in PC and Internet penetrations. An important alternative information delivery method that could be considered by Malaysia – and indeed by many other Asian countries – is one that is already right under our nose, and ready to use. The television.