KUCHING (Nov 30): Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA) and Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) have agreed in principle to roll out synergy and efficient projects in ramping up broadband connectivity to underserved areas in Sarawak.
According to a joint statement, SMA Rural Transformation (SMART), a flagship project under the SMA, targets to build 600 telecommunication (telco) towers throughout the state.
Such target is in line with the Digital Economy Strategy 2018-2022 for Sarawak.
“To date, 202 towers have been completed under the first phase known as the SMART First 300 project,” said the statement today.
It was revealed that another 98 telco towers are currently under construction with the completion target set by next year.
The statement said the tender award to install the common network platform for telco services to the SMART First 300 towers was expected to be completed by end of this year.
It added that desktop planning for the rollout of the SMART Next 300 was also completed.
SMA also announced the deployment of Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSAT) under the SMA Linking Urban, Rural and Nation (Saluran) 200 plan as an interim connectivity solution to targeted areas.
On Nov 20, MCMC announced the commencement of Phase 1 of the National Digital Network (Jendela) plan with the issuance of the first invitation for the submission of draft plans for the provisioning of public cellular and mobile broadband services at 1,661 locations nationwide.
Such initiative is part of the aspiration to enhance the nationwide coverage of 4G from 91.8 per cent to 96.9 per cent populated areas nationwide by 2022.
Out of the 1,661 identified locations, a total of 636 of them are located in Sarawak.
“Enhancing and expanding the 4G coverage are vital to ensure the availability of telco services to the rakyat at all corners of the nation.
“The surge in demand for broadband caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has prompted MCMC to revise its plans and targets for building a robust national digital infrastrucutre,” pointed out the statement.
It added that one of the aspirations was to provide an average mobile broadband speed of 35Mbps by end of next year.
Towards this end, it is crucial to complement a fiber-based network, which connects as many towers as possible.
“Aggressive fiberisation would enhance speed, reliability and the overall user experience. SMA is mindful of the connectivity gaps, especially in rural areas, still pose a big challenge in Sarawak.
“The efforts to address this issue were hindered by the pandemic outbreak and have only begun to pick up again,” the statement said.
Despite so, SMA is resolved to provide a seamless connectivity throughout the state.
It also pledged to work together with MCMC to find the best solution in providing the communication needs of all Sarawakians.
“The synergy shall pave the way to build a solid foundation for our future growth,” concluded the statement.