Terrain, fibre optic cost hindering last mile connectivity, says minister

Ranjit Singh
Gobind Singh Deo noted that there were still many remote areas that were still jungle or had not been developed and the government needed to come up with a national fiberisation plan to carry out full nationwide internet coverage.— Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 27 — Malaysia is facing difficulties to ensure 100 per cent broadband connectivity nationwide due to rough terrain and high cost in installing fibre optic cables, Communications and Multimedia Minister, Gobind Singh Deo said today.

He noted that there were still many remote areas that were still jungle or had not been developed and the government needed to come up with a national fiberisation plan to carry out full nationwide internet coverage.

But he said his ministry is in the process of cutting the red tape at the state government level to facilitate the installation of underground fibre optic networks under the National Broadband Initiative.

“I was informed that we have to apply to the states to lay the fibre optic cables and that there were many bureaucratic problems and so on.

“Besides being time-consuming, it also involves a high cost. If we can overcome these problems, I feel we can speed up the fiberisation policy and also reduce the cost, which ultimately lowers the cost for the consumer,” he said after launching the fourth meeting of the Asia Pacific Telecommunity conference at the Grand Hyatt hotel here.

Gobind said the country’s broadband coverage is currently at 94.4 per cent in populated areas, and the government aims to achieve a rate of 94.5 per cent by year end.

The minister said that in the present financial climate, many governments were faced with a limited amount of resources for the information and communications technology sector, which he noted is one of the key drivers for economic growth today.

He reiterated that Putrajaya has sought to standardise internet access through pricing, which requires all telecommunications companies in the country to lower their respective broadband prices by 25 per cent in stages by year end.

Telekom Malaysia Bhd and Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) have teamed up to implement the national broadband agenda.

The national utilities company are banking on the plan to monetise its 12,000km high-speed fibres network, which runs along its transmission lines.

TNB’s network has not been put to commercial use and is mainly utilised for its internal systems. A deal with TNB is seen as a major catalyst to achieve better and cheaper broadband connectivity.

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