Remote rural connectivity – 1,236 telco towers to be erected statewide

Zaidi together with the entourage from Sarawak Telecommunications Secretariat in a photo with Abang Johari (third right) after delivering the comprehensive briefing.

KUCHING, Jan 15: Plans are in the pipeline to install 1,236 telco towers across Sarawak this year with focus given to address the critical need for remote rural connectivity.

Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA) general manager Dr Zaidi Razak revealed that the digital infrastructure covering mobile broadband, satellite broadband, high-speed broadband and fixed wireless access (FWA) will be implemented by under Sarawak Multimedia Authority Rural Telecommunication (SMART) and MCMC’s National Digital Network (Jendela) plans.

The Sarawak Telecommunications Secretariat, co-chaired by the SMA and Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), Sarawak State Office, gave a comprehensive briefing to Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg as the chairman of the main committee of Telecommunications in Sarawak on the progress of the respective connectivity infrastructure projects at Wisma Bapa Malaysia here today.

“The Sarawak portion of the Jendela initiative with 636 new sites, makes up 38.3 per cent of the total 1,661 sites allocated throughout the country. The request for proposal will close on March 31.

“The SMART plan will contribute another 600 towers to Jendela in the form of the First300 and Next300 projects,” he explained in a statement today.

To date, Zaidi informed that 242 towers have been completed for the First300 whilst desktop planning has been completed for the Next300.

With the remaining First300 towers under various stages of completion, he added that the work to commission mobile broadband service for the completed First300 towers will begin in the second quarter of 2021 and concurrently will see the start of Next300 project.

He noted that the thrust of the State overall connectivity plan sought to cover 100 per cent of populated areas in Sarawak.

“To address the critical need for remote rural connectivity, the Saluran200 Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) satellite broadband initiative as part of SMART is expected to commence by early February after a successful tender process.

“200 VSATs will be deployed as interim measures to quickly address the digital gap in a dynamic fashion and the VSATs will be re-positioned for subsequent service needs once the gap is plugged,” he explained.

At the same time, Zaidi disclosed that residents at 60 sites along Jalan Sebauh, Bintulu will enjoy fixed high-speed broadband service with the laying of the 130-km fibre optic cable infrastructure which service is scheduled to be rolled out for the second quarter of 2021.

“Similarly, by tapping into the State’s existing fibre optic backbone, 150 new and existing towers in suburban and rural areas of Sarawak will beam broadband signals to enable residents to connect to the internet.

“This fixed wireless access (FWA) concept to enhance connectivity is expected to be fully deployed by end of February 2021,” he said.

Despite the disruptive nature of the pandemic, Zaidi assured that Sarawak through the SMA will be aggressive in keeping to the timeline of the various projects.

“As such we seek the same cooperation extended in the past from our stakeholders, both public and private, to ensure an orderly roll-out of the various telecommunication projects so as to address the pressing connectivity needs of our communities,” he called on.

MCMC Sarawak regional director Adiman Ajem and its deputy regional director Scott Kueh, SMA deputy general manager Hamadlan Hamdan and its special administrative officer Awang Johari Awang Mustapha were present. -DayakDaily

Zaidi together with the entourage from Sarawak Telecommunications Secretariat in a photo with Abang Johari (third right) after delivering the comprehensive briefing.