Small populations put off Internet providers

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Manyin speaking to reporters at a press conference at Kampung Kakeng in Serian. Photo: Mohd Alif Noni

TEBEDU: Sarawak is still facing Internet connectivity issues in most rural areas because of their small populations which make the places not economically viable for telco companies.

Education, Science and Technological Research (MESTR) Minister Datuk Amar Michael Manyin Jawong said although the state government was working hard to build telecommunication towers throughout the state, most telcos showed no interest in providing Internet service.

“It’s not a question of dealing with towers but whether it is viable or not for telcos like Maxis, Celcom and Digi. Are they willing to go into the interior?

“This is Sarawak’s main challenge. At the moment, the providers are not willing to offer their services because the     populations are small.

“They go there but there is no business. So they cannot break even,” he said after officiating at the closing of the Agriculture Community Outreach (Agricop) programme for Tebedu at Dewan Kampung Kakeng here today.

He was responding to a social media post that went viral regarding a teacher who organised a trip for a group of students from Nanga Sumpa and Nanga Jambu in Lubok Antu on a jungle trek to look for good Internet coverage.

On the state government’s part, Manyin explained that Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg was trying to find ways and means to have an alternative to provide the people with Internet connectivity.

“As far as schools are concerned, effective from January next year, all 1,265 primary schools throughout Sarawak will be provided with advanced and more effective computers – Raspberry Pi 5.

“Each school will have 30 computers. The state government has allocated RM12 mln for this purpose.”

On July 15, Abang Johari disclosed that the state government was hoping that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) would give the Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA) the licence to provide Internet service in rural areas of the state.

With the licence, the telecommunication towers in the state, particularly in rural areas, can be utilised to provide Internet service.

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