Sarawak looking to set up own telco company

Abdullah Saidol

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Nov 7: Sarawak government is looking to set up its own telecommunications company.

However, the state has yet to embark on the plan in view of the high cost to be incurred, said Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department (Corporate Affairs and Sarawak Public Communications Unit) Abdullah Saidol.

He added that it is more important to create the digital ecosystem including putting in place the telecommunications infrastructure.

“That’s why the 300 telco towers must be constructed throughout Sarawak but it is not an easy task.

“SMA (Sarawak Multimedia Authority) is facing various challenges including the size of Sarawak as well as the geographical challenges to get to the locations in the rural and remote areas,” he told the august House today.

Abdullah was responding to questions from Datuk Dr Juanda Jaya (GPS-Jemoreng), Alexander Vincent (GPS-Ngemah) and Mohamad Chee Kadir (GPS-Kabong) on the development of telco towers in the state.

However, he welcomed the interested private sector with strong financial ability to obtain the licence to set up private telco companies in Sarawak.

“There is potential opportunity in this sector considering Indonesia’s decision to shift its capital to Kalimantan. Maybe there is opportunity for partnership to set up telco company for the whole of Borneo,” he suggested.

The SMA300 project, to construct 300 telecommunication towers across the state focussing the rural areas, is in the implementation phase.

The state government has allocated RM795 million for the project and to date, a total of RM283,505,776 have been awarded to seven local contractors through open tender.

“There are plans for additional telco towers to be built in various areas but at present, surveying works to identify the sites are still ongoing. Soil investigation and matters with Land and Survey Department also needed to be addressed,” he explained.

A total of 11 telco towers have been planned for Kabong area and it is in the implementation stages, said Abdullah, while expressing hope that the towers can be completed in the first quarter next year.

He said SMA is committed to hold a dialogue with all elected representatives to address issues on telco towers in their respective areas.

He assured that SMA and its strategic partners will hold more digital and technology-related programmes to benefit the community in rural areas. — DayakDaily