Penang State Government to work closely with telcos to improve network infrastructure

The Penang State Government has introduced the Penang Connectivity Master Plan which aims to develop the telecommunications infrastructure in the state. This is done in line with the Penang 2030 vision of a “Family-friendly Green and Smart State to Inspire the Nation”. The first meeting was held yesterday with the Chief Minister, Chow Kon Yeow along with representatives from seven telcos and the MCMC.

Penang aims to be a gigabit city which offers high-speed internet and a more reliable broadband connection for businesses and local services. According to Penang Public Works, Utilities, Flood Mitigation Committee chairman, Zairil Khir Johari, the state government was ready to work with all telecommunication companies to set up their infrastructure in order to realise the dream of a gigabit city.

He added that most telecommunication companies face problems with the authorities in setting-up their infrastructure. With the Master Plan, Penang hopes to fulfil the demands of the public and industry and to address the challenges faced by telcos in rolling out and optimising their infrastructure.

Apart from spearheading the development of infrastructure, the state also needs to get ready within the next two years with proper infrastructure to support 5G. According to MCMC, Penang currently has 100% 3G coverage and 97.7% coverage for 4G LTE. Penang’s mobile coverage is above the national average of 81.6% for 3G and 79.6% for 4G.

The Penang Connectivity Master Plan will require a task force with a three-tier structure. The plan will provide a clear blueprint for coordination, planning and execution of all telecommunication matters in the state. The state’s initiatives will be guided by the federal government’s National Fiberisation and Connectivity Plan (NFCP).

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According to MCMC Chairman, Al-Ishsal Ishak, close co-operation is necessary to ensure effective implementations under the NFCP which include increasing connectivity. The NFCP targets to provide 98% of Malaysians with average speeds of 30Mbps and Gigabit connectivity in all state capitals by 2023.

At the moment, the national broadband penetration rate for every 100 households had increased from 117.3% to 121.1% in 2018. However, the majority of Malaysians are on mobile with 36.8 million subscriptions and only 2.66 million subscribers are on fixed broadband.

Al-Ishsal also mentions that the MCMC will be holding high-level meetings with senior officials from Perak, Sarawak, Kedah, Melaka and Selangor state governments in the coming weeks to foster closer co-operation.

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Alexander Wong