Sarawak seeking to provide own internet access to rural areas

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg unveiling the logo of the Free School Bus Service on a bus at Padang Merdeka in Kuching on July 15, 2020. On the left is Sarawak Transport Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin. (file pic)

By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, July 15: The issue of having communication towers without internet connectivity in the rural areas will be addressed soon as the Sarawak government is seeking MCMC to issue the necessary licences to provide internet access, revealed Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

Ya dikomplen orang – ada tower tapi sik ada kuali (We have the telecommunication towers but there is no internet connectivity – that is what the people in the rural areas complain about).”

The chief minister stated that he had requested the Minister of Communications and Multimedia Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah to give Sarawak the licence equivalent to other telcos.

“So the government will operate in those particular areas. And once there is a signal then we can have internet access,” Abang Johari told a press conference after launching the Free School Bus Services at Padang Merdeka here today.

The Chief Minister said the Sarawak government has planned to build 1,3000 communication towers throughout Sarawak.

“Now we, SMA (Sarawak Multimedia Authority) alone, has built 170 towers now. When we built the towers, the problem is in the rural areas where there is no telecommunication company willing to operate. The telcos don’t want to come to that area because there is no business.

“But how can there be business when we only have schools there, such as Long San? But we have to have that connectivity. So, since they do not want to go, the state government has to go. But we need the licence,” he reiterated.

Abang Johari believed that once the Sarawak government was able to operate these towers in the rural areas, the tariffs will be made cheaper with government subsidies.

“So we can charge lower tariffs because it is subsidised. If you want our farmers to use IoT (Internet of Things), they would have to pay. But if the government is there, then it will be subsidised, meaning they won’t have to pay much,” he added.

He promised that the Sarawak government would provide internet connectivity in the rural areas where communication towers have been installed. —DayakDaily