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By Yee Mei
KUCHING, Aug 9: Fifty-one Sarawak Multimedia Authority Rural Telecommunication (SMART) projects have been planned for the Kapit division.
According to Sarawak Digital Economy Corporation Berhad (SDEC) in a statement, 14 are to be completed under Phase 1 of the rollout, while the rest will be completed under Phase 2.
“SMART in Nanga Sekukut is among the 300 SMART sites under Phase 1 expected to be fully commissioned in stages by 2023. Another 300 sites under Phase 2 are in various stages of implementation and are expected to be fully completed by 2024.
“With the completion of 600 SMART sites from Sematan up to Lawas, 93.6 per cent of populated areas of Sarawak will be covered,” it said.
SDEC issued this statement in conjunction with the launching of SMART at Rumah Empawi in Nanga Sekukut, Kapit today attended by State Utility and Telecommunication Minister Datuk Julaihi Narawi who represented Sarawak Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.
In the Premier’s speech text, which was read out by Julaihi, he said that rural communities are the backbone of the State. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that they can participate in the dynamic digital eco-system and projects like SMART play an important role in realising the government’s wishes.
“With SMART, students and teachers in rural areas will have access to high-quality education, increasing literacy levels and providing new perspectives and opportunities.
“Sarawakians in rural areas can generate income, improve their digital skills, and gain access to knowledge. Our future will be prosperous as a digitally literate community driven by data and innovation,” he said.
He added that with the Internet, rural communities would be given a platform to develop their socioeconomic wellbeing and build a strong Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) base by establishing connections at local and international levels.
He also said that by digitally connecting the agricultural community in Sarawak and adapting smart agriculture technology, Sarawak is on the right track to becoming a net exporter of food by 2030.
Meanwhile, SDEC chairman Tan Sri Datuk Amar Mohamad Morshidi Abdul Ghani, who was present, said the launching of SMART highlights the government’s commitment to addressing and enhancing connectivity in rural Sarawak.
He said that the SMART initiative allows the Kapit community to participate in the digital economy by utilising the network to access e-commerce platforms.
On the other hand, he added, other businesses can now choose Ulu Yong, Kapit as one of their business destinations due to its seamless communication.
Mohamad Morshidi said that it is common knowledge that extending broadband coverage to rural areas is not always implemented commercially due to low returns.
“But to enable the people to participate in the digital economy, the government has decided to bear the costs for the construction of the towers and installing equipment.
“With SMART, network operators can leverage on the State-invested infrastructure and equipment to expand their coverage to rural areas by capitalising on the Multi-Operator Core Network (MOCN) technology.
“The operating cost for the mainstream operators can be reduced significantly and shared equally. Apart from providing mobile services, the SMART initiative also enables home broadband service through MySRBN (Sarawak Rural Broadband Network),” he said.
Presently, he said, MySRBN has provided service to 162 locations in Sarawak, with up to 15,000 households benefiting from it.
In Kapit, here are 16 locations in Pelagus, Katibas, Bukit Goram,Belaga and Murum that are receiving MySRBN services. — DayakDaily