31 Mar 2023, New Straits Times
KOTA KINABALU: The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) is working closely with the Sabah government to speed up land acquisition for building telecommunications towers in the state.
It was reported that Sabah is the biggest beneficiary of the National Digital Network or Jalinan Digital Negara (Jendela) initiative.
The initiative will see 382 new towers built, 924 communication transmitting devices upgraded, and fixed-line fibre-optic coverage expanded to cover 251,166 premises across Sabah.
However, Sabah MCMC director Izani Othman said one of the major setbacks in implementing the Jendela initiative was the acquisition of land.
He added that some of the earmarked lands belonged to the Sabah government and would require between three and six months to acquire.
“The process of buying land is indeed taking a long time, but we are working with the state Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry, the Local Government and Housing Ministry, and the Land and Survey Department to speed up the process.
“Special officers have been authorised by the Land and Survey Department to allow access for projects under the Jendela programme to speed up the process and approvals,” he said at a press conference after a town hall session on “Internet in Sabah” at the Tanjung Aru Library.
He said the 4G internet service had improved mainly in populated areas, from 73.4 per cent in 2020 to 90.33 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2022.
Izani said MCMC had set the year 2025 for full Internet coverage, but it would also depend on population growth.
“The 100 per cent target will be impossible to achieve, so we targeted 97 or 98 per cent as an achievable goal.
“As for the 5G network (in Sabah), the coverage is in Kota Kinabalu and Putatan. It is under the purview of Digital Nasional Berhad.”
Present at the town hall session were Tuaran member of parliament Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau, Sabah Computer Services director Ernywati Dewi and Institute for Development Studies IDS chief executive officer Datuk Dr Ramzah Dambul.
Madius, who is also the former science, technology and innovation minister, said access to the Internet was a basic human right and should be taken into consideration when formulating policies.
He added that the Covid-19 pandemic had highlighted the importance of the Internet for education and livelihoods through e-commerce.
The former deputy chief minister also urged the government to look into establishing a media regulatory body such as the Sarawak Multimedia Authority for Sabah.