Sarawak Telecommunication Projects to Intensify in 2021

KUCHING, 15 January, 2021 – The Sarawak Telecommunications Secretariat, cochaired by the Sarawak Multimedia Authority and Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), Sarawak State Office, gave a comprehensive briefing to YAB Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg as the chairman of main committee of Telecommunications in Sarawak on the progress of the respective connectivity infrastructure projects at Wisma Bapa Malaysia today.


Against the backdrop of YAB Chief Minister’s digital economy agenda, where digital infrastructure is a crucial key enabler, the briefing dwelt on Sarawak Multimedia Authority Rural Telecommunication (SMART) and MCMC’s National Digital Network (JENDELA) plans. These cover mobile broadband, satellite broadband, high-speed broadband and fixed wireless access (FWA).


Making a strong emphasis in the rural areas, the Sarawak portion of the JENDELA initiative with 636 new sites, makes up 38.3% of the total 1,661 sites allocated nationally. The request for proposal will close 31 March, 2021.


The SMART plan will contribute another 600 towers to JENDELA in the form of the First300 and Next300 projects. To date, 242 towers have been completed for the First300 whilst desktop planning has been completed for the Next300. The remaining First300 towers are under various stages of completion. The work to commission mobile broadband service for the completed First 300 towers will begin in the 2nd quarter of 2021 and concurrently will see the start of Next300 project. This notwithstanding, the thrust of the State overall connectivity plan seeks to cover 100% of populated areas in Sarawak.


To address the critical need for remote rural connectivity, the Saluran200 Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) satellite broadband initiative as part of SMART is expected to commence by early February, 2021 after a successful tender process. 200 VSATs will be deployed as interim measures to quickly address the digital gap in a dynamic fashion; VSAT/s will be re-positioned for subsequent service need once the gap is plugged.


At the same time, residents at 60 sites along Jalan Sebauh, Bintulu will enjoy fixed high speed broadband service with the laying of the 130-km fibre optic cable infrastructure. The roll-out of this service is scheduled for the 2nd quarter of 2021.


Similarly, by tapping into the state’s existing fibre optic backbone, 150 new and existing towers in suburban and rural area of Sarawak will beam broadband signals to enable residents to connect to the internet. This fixed wireless access (FWA) concept to enhance connectivity is expected to be fully deployed by end of February, 2021.


‘Despite the disruptive nature of the pandemic, the state through the Authority will be aggressive in keeping to the timeline of the various projects,’ assured Dr Zaidi Razak, General Manager of SMA.


‘As such we seek the same cooperation extended in the past from our stakeholders; both public and private, to ensure an orderly roll-out of the various telecommunication projects so as to address the pressing connectivity needs of our communities’.