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By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Feb 25: An estimated 7,000 telco towers are required to provide full network coverage to the entire populated areas in Sarawak including settlements, highways and areas of economic activities.
Minister of Utility and Telecommunication Datuk Julaihi Narawi however emphasised site approval is among the main challenges faced in telco towers construction.
“We had a meeting two days ago chaired by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan. We have resolved several issues to expedite site approvals required by agencies for the implementation of these towers.
“We hope there will be a solution to ease the construction of telco towers in Sarawak including those in the rural areas,” he said in a press conference after the Ministry’s engagement session with telecommunication stakeholders at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) here today.
But to meet the needs of people, Julaihi pointed out that service providers need to invest in expanding and improving their coverage and connectivity especially in rural areas as it will be profitable in the long run.
“In fact, I have urged the service providers to invest in providing coverage in rural areas. We know that they have made a profit from providing services in the urban areas. But we encouraged them to invest in rural areas as it will be profitable in the long run,” he added.
Elaborating on the 7,000 towers needed, Julaihi said the figure included the 600 towers planned throughout Sarawak, out of which 287 had been completed by Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA), and another 300 towers are in the process of construction this year to be undertaken by Sarawak Digital Economic Corporation (SDEC).
“Of the 287 towers completed, 14 have been installed with equipment while the remaining will be done in the nearest time. SDEC has all the equipment ready to be installed on all the 600 towers, so there won’t be any issue with shortages.
“Implementation of the needed towers will involve both the Sarawak and Federal governments including the relevant agencies. MCMC (Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission) already has the allocations,” he said.
Noting the heavy responsibility involved in view of the size and geographical challenges in Sarawak, Julaihi stressed that even so, the towers are needed in order for Sarawak to attain full network coverage.
As such, he said the engagement session was crucial to coordinate plans, strategies and works as well as find solutions to overcome problems and challenges that may crop up along the way for Sarawak to attain full network coverage as quickly as possible with 2025 set as the target.
“What is most important is close and strong coordination among agencies involved, including with the service providers.
“Today’s engagement mainly focused on issues and challenges faced by various stakeholders, which we have discussed in length, in efforts to improve and provide better telecommunication connectivity and services in Sarawak,” he added.
Assistant Minister of Telecommunication Datuk Liwan Lagang and permanent secretary to the Ministry Dato Ir Alice Jawan Empaling were among those present.
Among the telecommunication agencies participated in the engagement were Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA), Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), Sarawak Digital Economic Corporation (SDEC), Sacofa Sdn Bhd, Sarawak Information Systems Sdn Bhd (Sains), Sarawak Energy, Telekom Malaysia Berhad, Celcom, Digi, Maxis and U Mobile. — DayakDaily