S’wak wants own mobile internet service provider for rural folk
Posted on : 15 Jul 2020  Source of News: The Borneo Post Online

Abang Johari at the press conference today. Also seen are Local Government and Housing Minister Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian (seated left) and Transport Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin (seated right). – Picture by Muhammad Rais Sanusi

KUCHING: Sarawak aims to have its own mobile Internet service provider soon to resolve the lack of coverage in rural areas by the current telecommunication companies (telcos), Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said today.

The Chief Minister said the state government has applied for a license for the Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA) to operate the service which would be subsidised for the rural folk.

He revealed that he has urged Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah to expedite the application in order to resolve the internet woes faced by many rural Sarawakians.

“We have built some 170 telco towers in the rural areas now. The only problem is, no existing telcos want to operate in the rural areas. They said there is no business there so they are reluctant to operate there.

“Because of that, the state government has to get in. But we need the operating license. So last week I was with the minister (Saifuddin) and I requested from him to grant SMA the license, just like Telekom, Digi, Times and all that.

“So the state government will operate in those rural areas, then we can fully utilise the towers we have constructed. When we have signal there, we will have internet connectivity too,” he told reporters after launching the Free School Bus programme here today.

Abang Johari said the proposed mobile internet service to be provided by SMA will be subsidised by the state government and will be very affordable for the rural folks to be able to have internet access.

“We want our rural farmers to make use of the digital economy and Internet of Things (IoT) for their farming, they have to pay for telco services. But if the state government is there and we subsidise, they don’t have to pay so much for internet services,” he explained.

Asked when SMA would obtain the license, Abang Johari said he had no details but assured that it would be very soon as discussions with Saifuddin was very positive.

Abang Johari revealed that in addition to the 170 towers built by SMA, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission had also built some towers for the rural areas in the state, but still many were without telco services.

The state also targeted to build at least 1,400 towers by the year 2025 to provide the whole of Sarawak with internet coverage, he added.