300 telecommunication towers to be built by 2021

KUCHING: Sarawak expects to complete building 300 telecommunication towers by next year to improve mobile and Internet connectivity in rural areas.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA) had constructed 184 towers so far under the SMA300 telecommunication tower initiative.

“The remaining 116 are expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2021, ” he said when opening the International Digital Economy Conference Sarawak (IDECS) 2020 at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching here.

The telecommunication tower initiative is part of efforts to provide digital infrastructure and economy under the state’s digital economy strategy.

Abang Johari said the rollout of another 300 towers in phase two of the initiative was still in the planning stages.

He said the 600 towers in total would complement the Federal Government’s National Digital Infrastructure Plan (Jendela) initiatives, which include 636 new towers in Sarawak.

“This strategic partnership will realise the state’s vision of achieving 99.9% broadband coverage throughout Sarawak, ” he said.

Abang Johari also said the state government was committed to enhancing connectivity through new policies and initiatives.

For instance, he said, the state government had allocated RM3mil to upgrade Internet connectivity in nine national parks, with the first at Semenggoh orang utan rehabilitation centre already completed.

“To accelerate Internet connectivity to underserved rural communities, the state government has established free WiFi connectivity for a number of villages and longhouses.

“Through this initiative, each village will share a bandwidth of 30Mbps.

“To date, 20 villages and longhouses have been digitally connected to access the Internet, government services and Sarawak Pay (e-wallet facility), ” said Abang Johari.

In addition, he said the state government had allocated RM50mil to instal very small aperture terminal (VSAT) stations to improve connectivity in underserved rural areas.

“I believe that installing VSAT stations is the best way to solve the problem of poor Internet connectivity in rural areas quickly, ” he said.

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