50 pct penetration by year-end


Datuk Joseph Salang

KUCHING: The federal government has invested some RM640 million in broadband initiatives to achieve at least 50 per cent Internet penetration in the state by the end of the year, said Information, Communications and Culture Deputy Minister Datuk Joseph Salang.

He added of the amount, some RM480 million was for building telecommunications towers.

“As of today, the construction of all 114 towers has been completed and cellular service providers are currently at the final stage of installing electronic equipment on site. These towers mainly serve cellular service including 3G,” Salang told The Borneo Post here yesterday.

He said each tower would cost between RM1.8 million and RM2 million, depending on location.

“Towers in remote area normally cost higher due to logistics and it includes the physical tower construction and electronic installation,” he explained.

On Internet penetration in the state, Salang disclosed that it was currently about 48 per cent compared to 63.5 per cent in other states except for Sabah and Kelantan, which were still below 50 per cent.

“Telecommunication towers are built initially for the purpose of providing cellular service which includes mobile 3G broadband.

“We also expect other initiatives such as the provision of ‘Kampung Tanpa Wayar’ (WiFi villages) and distribution of Komputer 1Malaysia (1Malaysia laptops) will contribute significantly to the jump in percentage of household broadband penetration rate in the state,” he said.

He, however, said the rate achieved so far still fell short of the 50 per cent target set by the state government.

By the end of the year, he said, between 80 and 90 per cent of populated areas in the state were expected to have access to the Internet, disclosing that the penetration rate in Miri was already more than 60 per cent.

“But let me explain that no country in the world would be able to achieve 80 to 90 per cent broadband penetration because there would always be at least two out of 10 people who would not want it,” he explained.

Meanwhile, Salang who is also the MP for Julau, said the huge allocation was a strong proof that the federal government had not neglected the state.

“Just in Julau alone, there are now 20 towers which have provided good coverage for both telephone and Internet services,” he added.