Appeal goes out to landowners to allow telco towers

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KUCHING: Landowners in Sarawak have been asked to allow the government to use their land to put up more than 1,000 telecommunication towers over the next one year.

“It is understandable that land matters are always close to the people’s hearts as it is priceless and can be very sensitive. However, there is an urgency to build these more than 1,000 new towers in order to improve the current connectivity.

“Under the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), 636 towers will be built and an additional 300 towers will be built by the Sarawak Government, through the Sarawak Digital Economy Corporation (SDEC); with 300 towers now under implementation. So, in total more than 1,200 towers are expected to be completed by the end of 2022,” Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA) General Manager Dr Zaidi Razak explained.

He added that since the implementation of Sarawak Linking Urban Rural (SALURAN) initiatives which started in January 2021, the coverage area had increased from 54.2 per cent currently to 93.6 per cent by December 2022.

“Additionally, there is an improvement in 4G coverage with the completion of 150 Sarawak Rural Broadband Network (MySRBN) and 71 National Digital Network (JENDELA) sites.

“This is further boosted by upgrading the current 2G and 3G network to 4G network so as to provide better internal connectivity.

“Furthermore, this is in line with our target to provide Internet penetration of more than 90 per cent by 2025 so that Sarawak can achieve a high income economy by 2030,” Zaidi said after briefing a MCMC delegation led by its director Adiman Ajem  here on Tuesday (Nov 23).

Zaidi stressed that any land acquisition by the government would be carried out by the Land and Survey Department.

“Insofar as land acquisition is concerned, the Land and Survey Department will carry out acquisition which include terms and conditions on such issues.

“All the sites of 636 towers have been identified, and I hope that the local communities at the site which have been identified will give their full cooperation and allow their land to be utilised to build these towers.

“With better connectivity, most people will get connected to the Internet. Additionally, with better connectivity, people can participate in the digital economy such as buying and selling online and get connected with their loved ones from other cities,” he added.

In light of this, he also stressed that Internet connectivity must be used responsibly so that it could bring benefit to them.

“I hope that this opportunity will not be washed away from your sight. Use this tool to earn more income even if it means only RM10 a day, it’s still income.

“Even RM1 per day is still income or you can offer your services in rural areas by providing a guide to tourists who come and visit your place. These are simple examples on how to leverage this Internet connectivity,” he said.

Meanwhile, Adiman revealed that MCMC will have to invest RM4.01 billion to build the 636 towers which include upgrading of 4G network, fibrillation and satellite interim solution.

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