SEMPORNA, May 18 —The Free-Space Optical Communication (FSO) technology used by Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) to provide high-speed internet coverage to residents on Pulau Bum Bum here has the potential to be deployed in other parts of the country, said Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil.

He said that based on his observations of the FSO technology on Pulau Bum Bum today, it could be utilised as a solution to provide access in challenging areas, particularly those where building telecommunications towers is difficult.

He said about three per cent of populated areas in the country still lack internet access, involving approximately 2,800 communities, and according to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), only 15 per cent of these communities are suitable for internet access through telecommunications towers.

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“The remaining 85 per cent of these communities may require a hybrid solution; some may need satellite or VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal), and some may need new technologies (such as FSO). I have asked for the process to be expedited.

“I have requested the Communications Ministry secretary-general (Datuk Mohamad Fauzi Md Isa) and MCMC to look into this matter,” he told reporters after visiting the National Information Dissemination Centre (Nadi) in Kampung Terusan Tengah, Pulau Bum Bum, today.

TM One executive vice-president Shazurawati Abd Karim said the FSO technology uses light transmitted through free space for telecommunications purposes and wirelessly transmits data over a distance of up to three kilometres.

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“FSO enables high-speed gigabit broadband internet similar to other cities in Malaysia. Pulau Bum Bum is among four locations where we have successfully implemented this technology since 2022, with the others being Pulau Aman in Penang, and Maludam and Beladin in Sarawak,” she said.

Commenting on Nadi, Fahmi said that 186 such centres are being developed nationwide, allowing more people to benefit from the facilities provided, including high-speed internet access.

“In some areas, there is a demand to increase the number of these centres, and we are looking into that. One thing we noticed from surveys is that those living within two to three kilometres of a Nadi benefit greatly,” he said.

With this expansion effort, the number of Nadi in Sabah will increase to 132 centres from 118 previously, with the Nadi on Pulau Bum Bum serving more than 3,000 surrounding community members and 2,200 community members participating in programmes conducted at the centre.

Earlier, when attending the Jiwa Madani Programme in Kampung Terusan Tengah on the island, Fahmi said village chiefs could apply for funding of up to RM100,000 through the Sejahtera Komuniti Madani (SejaTi Madani) Programme provided by the government to stimulate economic activities at the community level.

“This programme can be applied for, for instance, agriculture, enhancing the local economy such as specific products from the area. In some places in Sabah, they make sambal Tuhau, which I’ve tried; it’s delicious and now it’s a product that can be sold on Shopee.

“Identify what products can be developed and apply for this programme’s funding, but the funds should be used to benefit the community’s economic development, not for travel,” he said, adding that the programme could generate higher income for the local population.

Additionally, Fahmi said Pulau Bum Bum has a high potential to attract more tourists, thus it needs to be equipped with upgraded facilities, including internet access, by 2026, which is Visit Malaysia Year.

“We want more tourists to come to Malaysia to boost relations and economic growth. If they come here, they will certainly upload pictures. I see the capability and potential of Pulau Bum Bum as very high, with beautiful water and delicious food,” he said. — Bernama