SMA serious in assisting Sarawak govt achieve 90 pct communication coverage

File photo for illustration only. Photo credit: Pixabay

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KUCHING, Dec 13: Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA) is serious in assisting the Sarawak government to provide more than 90 per cent of extensive communication coverage to the population by the end of next year.

While giving this assurance, SMA general manager Dr Zaidi Razak emphasised that SMA faces a monumental task in view of Sarawak’s huge land mass which is as big as the peninsula, including its rugged terrain and challenging topography.

“There is so much we can do, but we cannot do magic and provide an instant solution in the face of Sarawak’s huge geographical and physical challenges.

“In fact, Sarawak is the only State in the whole country which has this initiative that has been proven to be crucial for the needs of all segments of society during the time of Covid-19 pandemic,” he said in a statement today.

Zaidi was responding to criticisms levelled against the State government on connectivity issues especially in rural Sarawak, stressing that Sarawak already has intervention programmes as it could not just rely on the federal government having learned from previous lessons where some projects were cancelled or delayed during the Pakatan Harapan administration.

However, he was optimistic that Sarawak’s aim to achieve better connectivity could be realised with both the Sarawak and federal governments allocating more than RM5 billion for communications infrastructure development in the next few years.

“The State will go far ahead in its digital economy agenda which is expected to reach maturity by 2030, whereby it is envisioned that each household’s income in Sarawak is expected to reach USD12,000 per annum (equivalent to RM49,920 at current rates),” he added.

Acknowledging that there is a serious digital divide between rural and urban areas and since such constraints could hinder the realisation of the digital economy, Zaidi explained that Fixed Wireless Broadband (FWB) has been identified as the solution in bridging the Internet access gap.

“As such, the Sarawak Rural Broadband Network (MySRBN), which is a Sarawak Digital transformation initiative by the Sarawak government under the Sarawak Digital Economy Corporation (SDEC), is part of the state’s efforts to digitise Sarawak’s economy and connect rural communities with the whole world,” he said.

FWB technology refers to a wireless forward-range transmission that provides 3-4 km radius coverage with a clear line of sight to dedicated users through point to multiple points.

The base station (or eNodeB) will be located in the existing structure, along with the antenna and auxiliary systems, while the Customer Premises Equipment (CPE), which will include External Units (ODUs) and Internal Units (IDUs), will be installed at users or the premise in question.

“This technology enables fast service launch and a dedicated broadband experience for users with unlimited quotas. FWB settlements open up a world of opportunities for residents living in rural areas.

“And with the implementation of SALURAN, the State’s digital economy agenda will be further expanded with more telecommunication coverage to be made to ensure digital connectivity to non-commercially viable areas,” he said.

The government-funded SALURAN component consists of SMA Rural Telecommunication Towers (600 in total consisting of an initial 300 towers which are expected to be complete by first quarter of 2022 and an additional 300 towers which are expected to be completed by end of 2022); WIFI SALURAN; Sarawak Rural Broadband Network (MySRBN); Fiberisation Projects such as Point of Interconnect (POI) at nine sites at the SFC National Parks; SarawakNet connection and Sebauh-Bintulu High Speed Broadband.

“To enhance greater digital communication coverage throughout Sarawak, the federal government through MCMC (Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission) has announced recently that it will continue to consult with all telecommunications companies in the country towards upgrading their Internet networks in Sarawak to achieve a connection speed of at least 4G,” he said.

“With the whole ecosystem being progressively and aggressively put in place, Sarawak is poised to become a regional digital powerhouse underpinned by our commitment on digital enablers such as digital infrastructure, digital talents, comprehensive policy, ‘Sarawak first’ policy (giving priority to our people to involve in this journey) and lastly, using enablers to support our economic sectors.

“It is hoped that this ‘new ecosystem’ will uplift our economic capacity and capability to achieve our mission to become a developed State by 2030,” he added. — DayakDaily