By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Sept 9: The Sarawak government has already invested RM2 billion to extend Internet coverage across Sarawak with the aim of completing the construction of at least 7,000 telecommunication towers by 2030 for full network penetration.
Highlighting this, Minister of Utility and Telecommunications Datuk Julaihi Narawi however expressed his biggest hope to see telecommunication and Internet service providers such as Maxis, Celcom, Digi and U Mobile utilise the telco towers to extend network coverage and their services especially to rural areas.
“For instance, SMA (Sarawak Multimedia Authority) has 600 towers in Sarawak divided into two phases with 300 towers each. Phase 1 has been done and we are now installing equipment for all the towers which is handled by SDEC (Sarawak Digital Economy Corporation) as all of them were not equipped previously.
“Like I have mentioned before, the providers are focusing more on urban areas because rural areas are not profitable. They are looking at the bottom line of their investment, but we want to encourage them to use the towers when completed to extend their services in rural areas because we have already built the towers. It costs us a lot,” he said.
He also thanked Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) for approving RM4 billion for Sarawak to facilitate the construction of telco towers and installation of equipment.
Julaihi highlighted this at a press conference after launching the Batam Sarawak Internet Cable System (BaSICS) and Tier IV Santubong Data Centre by locally based telecommunication company irix at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) here today.
He reiterated that an estimated 7,000 telco towers are required to provide full network coverage across the entire Sarawak, and of that, 3,500 towers have been completed while 1,043 are under construction.
“As mentioned before this, 300 towers will be built under Phase 2 and equipment will be installed simultaneously so that rural areas will also be able to enjoy Internet coverage. This is implemented by the Sarawak government,” he added.
Now with the launch of BaSICS and irix Data Centre, Julaihi called on industry players, especially telecommunication and Internet service providers, to capitalise on the potential opportunity of the infrastructure and enable Internet coverage to reach rural areas for the benefit of rural populace.
“We are doing it right now because we are serious in ensuring Internet access to all parts of Sarawak. Our target (to build all the towers) is 2030 but if we can complete them by 2025, it is even better.
“But it will take time. We need patience from our communities as the State government is trying to make as much effort as it can to get it done,” he added. — DayakDaily