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TELECOMMUNICATIONS COVERAGE IN RURAL AREAS

State plans to step in if private telcos won’t

KUCHING: Telecommunications operators are told to get involved in the state’s telecommunications coverage expansion programme in rural areas across the state.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said while the state government was building telecommunications towers in rural areas, the participation of the operators was needed to supply the connection in the area.

“We have the towers, but we need somebody to operate the connectivity but the operators said they won’t go (to the rural areas) because there is no market,” he said in an exclusive with New Sarawak Tribune recently.

He said an alternative to waiting on the operators would be for the state government to set up an outfit in which they themselves become operator at the less developed areas.

“This will be given substantial subsidy where the Internet charged to the dwellers are reasonable.”

Abang Johari said his concerns were relayed to Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah during the latter’s visit to Sarawak earlier this month.

“This is the weakness that we have and the minister (Saifuddin) agreed to it in principle. In other words, we can cover the whole state if commercial telecommunications companies do not want to participate.

“We will enter to provide the Internet connectivity facility to the dwellers,” he added.

Abang Johari said Saifuddin acknowledged Sarawak’s plan of digitalisation and that the state government had a masterplan in terms of socioeconomic development using technology.

“He (Saifuddin) said to me that the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has to work with Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA) and he wanted MCMC to have representatives in SMA.

“With the two working together, the economic transformation using technology can be expedited,” he said.

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