SARIKEI, Nov 28 — The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has been asked to study the feasibility of providing wider internet coverage using Fixed Wireless Broadband (FWB) in rural and remote areas of Sarawak.
Communications and Multimedia Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa said the cost-benefit analysis was to determine the effectiveness of providing internet facilities to the people.
The FWB system under the Sarawak Rural Broadband Network (MySRBN) digital transformation initiative launched by the Sarawak Government in April this year is to provide high-speed broadband services to the state’s rural and remote areas.
“This is a programme to complete the master plan, focusing on areas that have been left out and with no internet access, usually at the fringes of the coverage area from the existing towers,” he told reporters after visiting the MySRBN project at Taman Susur Jambu here today.
“I have asked the MCMC to conduct some further studies to look at it from a technical point of view, from a cost-efficiency point of view, and to what extent it can be adapted to the existing programme, even though the 4G programme in Sarawak has reached 80 per cent,” he said.
Annuar said as of the third quarter of 2021, the migration from 3G to 4G in Sarawak had increased from 72 per cent to 83 per cent, and by the end of next year, it could reach 90 per cent.
Even so, there may be areas that are left out of the 4G coverage in the vast lands of Sarawak, and the use of fixed wireless broadband in those areas could be more viable.
“Technically, this system is good, because it can provide access speeds of between 30mbps to 35mbps, and this is good for users,” he said.
Meanwhile, he lauded the Sarawak government’s initiative to speed up the provision of internet facilities through the Sarawak Digital Economy Corporation (SDEC), where since its launch, a total of 12,000 out of the 45,000 houses targeted had been provided with FWB.
“To make it more widespread, the MCMC can do a study, and we can collaborate with SDEC on providing it in other places as well,” he said.
Meanwhile, SDEC chief executive officer Sudarnoto Osman said the first phase of the MySRBN project involving 150 sites between the Telok Melano area in southern Sarawak and Lawas in the north of the state had been completed, with another 44 sites to be built under the second phase.
“Seven of the 44 sites are operational, and the rest will begin operating by the end of this year. The construction of the sites is based on requests from the people through their respective elected representatives, “he said.
In addition, he said those who did not have internet coverage, could also make a request through the website https://sarawak.digital/mysrbn.
According to Sudarnoto, SDEC has collaborated with MCMC in providing internet coverage in Sarawak, where it has undertaken the construction of 600 communication towers throughout the state.
MCMC, meanwhile, will build a total of 636 communication towers under the National Digital Network (Jendela) plan, with both parties providing a combined 94.3 per cent coverage in Sarawak.
“Out of the 600 towers (undertaken by SDEC), 300 towers have been erected, and the installation of equipment is expected to be completed in the first quarter of next year. The rest is expected to be completed by the end of next year,” he said.
On the subscription fee for the MySRBN package, Sudarnoto said it would be announced by the state government later, and until then, it would be available for free to the people of Sarawak. — Bernama