Saifuddin Abdullah Photo: Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR: The government always strived to implement various initiatives to improve the coverage and quality of broadband services throughout the country, thus narrowing the digital divide between urban and rural areas, including in Sabah and Sarawak.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said the ministry was holding a planning session with the industry through the National Digital Infrastructure Workshop (Makmal) which started from July 13 until Aug 14 led by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to strengthen the quality and coverage of services throughout the country.

In Sabah, for example, Saifuddin said, at least 115 new telecommunication towers, which include broadband services, would be built under the initiative to provide public cellular services.

“Besides that, a total of 10 new 4G transmitting stations and 266 upgrades have been implemented commercially by the service providers in Sabah which have been completed and operational this year.

“In addition, to improve the quality of fixed line broadband services, the initiative to upgrade copper-based to fibre optic networks will be implemented and a total of 43,879 customers in Sabah will be upgraded within the next two years,” he said in a written reply that was posted on the Parliament’s official website today.

Saifuddin was replying to a question from Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau (UPKO-Tuaran) who had wanted to know the steps that have been and will be taken to ensure high-speed Internet access in Sabah.

On radio frequency spectrum, Saifuddin said the study on the replanning of the 87.5 MHz to 108 MHz frequency band for FM radio is being carried out by MCMC and is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of this year.

“Therefore, the implementation of the spectrum replanning, including the possibility of adding channels for FM radio, is subject to the results of the study,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Sarawak, Saifuddin said MCMC would work with the Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA) in terms of planning and facilitating the construction approval process to expedite the construction of digital infrastructure to improve broadband quality and coverage in the state.

He said it was among the important agreement reached during his courtesy call on Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg on July 10.

“The improvement of broadband coverage through Makmal would also be participated by senior officers from SMA to address the needs in Sarawak,” he said when replying to a question from Datuk Wilson Ugak Kumbong (GPS-Hulu Rajang).

Wilson wanted to know if the ministry plans to set up telecommunication towers at Rh. Melintang, Sg Gaat, Rh Mengga Sepulau Gaat/ Sk. Nanga Balang Sg. Gaat, Punan Biau/ Punan Sama Belaga, Nanga Merirai Baleh Kapit and Sk Nanga Kain Baleh Kapit.

Saifuddin said areas with less or no coverage would be included in MCMC’s planning in the near future (2021-2022). – Bernama