KUCHING, July 15 — Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Abang Johari Openg today said the federal Minister of Communications and Multimedia Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah has agreed in principle to issue a licence to state-owned Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMC) to operate the internet in rural areas.
He said the discussion was held recently as the major telecommunication companies did not want to go to the areas, adding that he has instructed SMA general manager Zaidi Razak to follow up with the federal Communications and Multimedia Ministry.
“I hope we can get the licence as soon as possible now that we have a different federal government,” he said, referring to the ruling Perikatan Nasional that replaced the Pakatan Harapan coalition in March.
“What happened is that we have the towers, but do not have the transmission facilities. That is why we have an internet connectivity problem,” he added.
Abang Johari claimed the telcos said they are not prepared to go to the rural areas as the population is small.
“To them, installing internet infrastructures and operations are costly when the population is small,” he said.
He said SMA will charge a nominal fee for internet use and the state government will cover any loss faced by the body.
Abang Johari said the state government is aiming to have 1,300 telco towers, including those from Malaysia Communications and Multimedia Commission in the state
He said SMA has so far built 170 towers.