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Improving Internet Coverage

KUCHING: The state government has plans to build 657 communication towers this year as part of its efforts to improve Internet coverage in the state.

This was disclosed by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg who pointed out that thus far, 1,532 communication towers had been built.

To date, in the telecommunication and broadband infrastructure, we have improved the connectivity to 78 per cent for 3G and 48 per cent for 4G.

By the end of 2020, I am confident that we will achieve full coverage of broadband services state-wide, he said in his keynote address at the opening ceremony of the International Digital Economy Conference Sarawak (Idecs) 2018 at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) here yesterday.

He pointed out that the telecommunication and broadband infrastructure will be strategically located to improve services at tourist spots, manufacturing plants and commercial centres to facilitate the growth of digital economy.

Last year, I have announced an initial RM1 billion to implement the digital infrastructure so that we can achieve internet coverage throughout Sarawak and increase the speed to 100Mps in urban areas and 20 to 80Mps in rural areas.

Over the next three years, more funds will be allocated to complete the 100 per cent coverage if necessary, he remarked.

Abang Johari also reported on the progress the state government had made in their journey towards the development of digital economy in Sarawak.

Among them is the overall policy of the Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA) to encourage competition and an open market environment so that the cost of building the state’s digital economy will be relatively lower.

This should have the effect of increasing the efficiency and competitiveness of our digital economy and allow the participation of more qualified players into the digital market.

He also noted that though it may be desirous that the digital economy should create good opportunities for Sarawakian individuals or companies, it must not be done at the expense of inefficiency or higher cost of digital services.

Indeed, many of the local players may be dark horses in that they have been playing supporting roles before because of the local market structure. But they should now have the opportunities to establish themselves as major local players.

Similarly, global companies may feel that they are the best ones to provide services for Sarawak, but we also cannot allow just one or two to dominate the entire Sarawak market, he said, adding that it is the delicate balance of a good and broad mix of the best local and foreign players that will in the end serve the Sarawak digital economy best.

He also assured all that he would ensure that the SMA policies would not be constraining, but should encourage and energise more players into the state’s digital economy.

Given the broad policies that will be set out by SMA, the implementing agency SMA has to ensure that the SMA policies are carried out with great transparency so that digital players and the general public are confident that the best conditions are being provided for the digital economy.

Deputy chief ministers Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing and Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan were also present.

Source: Sarawak Government

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