Dr Zaidi Razak

KUCHING, Dec 13, 2021 - The Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA) is serious in assisting the state government to provide more than 90 per cent of extensive communication coverage to its population by end of next year, assured SMA general manager Dr Zaidi Razak. 

According to him, SMA is facing a monumental task with Sarawak’s huge land mass which is as big as the Peninsular, including its rugged terrain and challenging topography.

“However, we can assure that there is so much we can do but we cannot do magic and provide instant solution in the face of Sarawak’s huge geographical and physical challenges.


“In fact, Sarawak is the only state in the whole country which has this initiative that has been proven to be crucial for the needs of all segments of society during the time of Covid-19 pandemic,” he said in a statement today.


The statement was issue in response criticism towards SMA’s chairman and Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg on connectivity and that Sarawak already has this intervention programmes because Sarawak could not just rely on federal as it had learned from previous lessons that Sarawak had to face when some of the projects were cancelled or delayed during the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration.


However, Zaidi was optimistic that the aim of Sarawak to achieve better connectivity could be realised with both the state and federal governments allocating more than RM5 billion for communications infrastructure development in the next few years.


“The state will go far ahead in its digital economy agenda which is expected to reach maturity by 2030, whereby it is envisioned that each household income in Sarawak is expected to reach US$12,000 per annum (equivalent to RM49,920 at current rate),” he said.

He admitted that there is a serious digital divide between rural and urban areas as there is either a lack or limited access to the Internet.


Since such constraints could hinder the realisation of the digital economy, Fixed Wireless Broadband (FWB) has been identified as the solution in bridging the Internet access gap, he said.


“As such, the Sarawak Rural Broadband Network (MySRBN), which is a Sarawak Digital transformation initiative by the Sarawak government under the Sarawak Digital Economy Corporation (SDEC), as part of the state’s efforts to digitise Sarawak’s economy and connect rural communities with the whole world,” he said.

Zaidi explained that by using FWB technology solutions, the state government is committed to providing high-speed broadband services to suburban and rural areas in Sarawak.


FWB technology refers to a wireless forward-range transmission that provides three to four-km radius coverage with a clear line of sight to dedicated users through point to multiple points.


The base station (or eNodeB) will be located in the existing structure, along with the antenna and auxiliary systems, while the Customer Premises Equipment (CPE), which will include External Units (ODUs) and Internal Units (IDUs), will be installed at users or the premise in question.

“This technology enables fast service launch and a dedicated broadband experience for users with unlimited quotas. FWB settlements open up world opportunities for residents living in rural areas.


“And with the implementation of Saluran, the state’s digital economy agenda will be further expanded with more telecommunication coverage to be made to ensure digital connectivity to non-commercially viable areas,” he explained.


Zaidi said this is one of the state government’s initiatives to reduce the socio-economic gap in the rural community of Sarawak.


The government funded Saluran component consists of SMA Rural Telecommunication Towers (600 in total consisting of initial 300 towers which are expected to be complete by first quarter of next year and an additional 300 towers which are expected to be completed by end of next year; WiFi Saluran; Sarawak Rural Broadband Network (MySRBN); Fiberisation Projects such as Point of Interconnect (POI) at nine sites at the SFC National Parks; SarawakNet connection and Sebauh-Bintulu High Speed ​​Broadband.


“To enhance greater digital communication coverage throughout Sarawak, the federal government through MCMC has announced recently that it will continue to consult with all telecommunications companies (telcos) in the country towards upgrading their Internet networks in Sarawak to achieve a connection speed of at least 4G,” said Zaidi.


He said that with the setting up of SMA, Sarawak has provided a platform for all stakeholders to participate in the infinity and borderless world of digital economy.


“And with the whole ecosystem being progressively and aggressively put in place, Sarawak is poised to become a regional digital powerhouse underpinned by our commitment on digital enablers such as digital infrastructure, digital talents, comprehensive policy, Sarawak first policy (giving priority to our people to involve in this journey) and lastly, using enablers to support our economic sectors.


“It is hoped that this ‘new ecosystem’ will uplift our economic capacity and capability to achieve our mission to become a developed State by 2030,” he added.


Meanwhile, Zaidi reiterated that the state government is taking it seriously to provide better internet connectivity to the people especially in the time of Covid-19 pandemic when most of the people are required to limit their movement and stay at home.


“As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, daily needs and activities can only be obtained through online manner, including working, learning and even shopping.


“In view of this, Internet connection become essential for everybody especially during this pandemic period in particular and this is how SMA can play an important role in making the connectivity reality for every citizen in Sarawak,” he said.

Source: Dayak Daily