The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) is about to open up for applications to its Youth Communications Package (YCP), a system where young people can request a MYR200 ($65 US) rebate on selected 3G smartphones that cost no more than MYR500 ($163US).

There are of course restrictions, but the idea is that young people who are not buying top end mobile phones, can get hold of handsets that can be used on Malaysia’s broadband facilities and encourage especially youth in rural areas to get connected.

Those who can apply must be aged between 21 and 30, they can register from 1 January 2013 and the option is available on a first-come first-served basis while stocks of the selected smartphones last.

The current list of smartphones includes a fair selection of handsets but naturally not ones from the higher end of the spectrum. The choices include Alcatel 993D, Alcatel OneTouch Inspire 2, The Buzz Phone, HTC Wildfire, Huawei Ideos X3, LG Optimus L3, Nokia 2730 and 7230, Nokia Asha 305, 308  and 311, Nokia Lumia 610, Samsung Galaxy Chat, Mini, Pocket and Y, Sony Xperia Tipo and a number of others. You can see the full list here [PDF] and it will be updated periodically to sync with service provider websites.

The YCP was announced by the Prime Minister as part of the Budget 2013, tabled in September.

MCMC Chairman, Dato’ Mohamed Sharil Tarmizi, pointed out that through studies conducted by the Ministry, over 90% of users are in the prepaid market and in this area, there is not much in the way of incentives or subsidies for handsets and that these deals are more normally reserved for post paid contracts.

He says that the scheme is aimed at young people who are new to smartphone use:

“The idea is to spread the incentive across to those who do not yet use smartphones. We really want to help those who cannot afford to change phones to upgrade from their old 2G phones to a basic 3G smartphone. Those who can afford phones priced above RM500 are really not in the intended category or target market. Some of those phones can reach prices of over RM2,500 without contract. A RM200 rebate does not even make a dent but if the phone is priced at RM500, a RM200 rebate goes a long way. Again, the target is the lower income group and the youths”

By providing better means for Malaysian youth to get online via mobile handsets, there is hope that information will empower more people and of course provide greater access to information and education.

Tarmizi told The Star that the scheme should benefit a very specific sector of society saying, “We really want those with the old second generation mobile phones to migrate to a basic 3G smartphone. These are the people who generally want to buy a smartphone, but they cannot afford one. If you can buy a RM2,000 smartphone, you’re not the person we want to help. If you can afford this kind of phone, would you want a RM200 rebate?”

The publication also points out that a recent survey of the region shows that just under  90% of cell phone users earn less than RM 3,000 and that 87% of mobile users surveyed were using handsets without smartphone capabilities.

Along with the push to open access for young people, owners of small businesses who will also be able to start applying for the Get Malaysian Business Online (GMBO) grant from January 1.

The MYR1,000 ($327 US) grant is available to entrepreneurs who have registered websites. Around 50,000 eligible applicants are expected to benefit.

Image Credit: joncandy / Flickr