Energy, Water and Communications Minister Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik has given mobile operators until the end of October to provide coverage of blind spots in the Klang Valley, Putrajaya and Cyberjaya; and until the end of 2005 to provide full nationwide coverage.
Those failing to comply would be subject to penalties, which could be in the form of cash payments or revocation of their licences, he said.
“The Cabinet is restless. It has met three times over the issue. I do not want to see any more blind spots in the country by the end of 2005,’’ Dr Lim told reporters after launching TIME Dotcom Bhd’s wireless broadband Internet service Webbit in Petaling Jaya yesterday. “There are over 11 million mobile phone users in the country. But how many of them are totally connected?'' he asked.
Dr Lim said he had met up with the 3 operators and told them of the urgency of providing 100% coverage in the Klang Valley, Putrajaya and Cyberjaya areas but did not issue any deadline then.
Malaysian Communications & Multimedia Commission (MCMC) chairman Datuk V. Danapalan would be briefing the 3 mobile operators on the new requirements and deadline, he added.
They are Celcom (M) Bhd, Digi.com Bhd and Maxis Communications Bhd.
Maxis has the lion's share of the market followed by Celcom. DiGi controls about 20.6% of the market. Currently, all the operators claim to have coverage in most parts of the country but none has total coverage in every nook and corner.
Dr Lim pointed out that operators set up new towers on their own, share towers with others or provide coverage via domestic inter-roaming.
To a question that operators might face problems with the local governments over the issue of suitable sites for towers, he said: “Do not give excuses?. just put up (the towers and provide the service).’’
The minister said the regulator, MCMC, would take appropriate action if the deadlines were not met and decide on the penalty.
“I’ll leave it to the regulator to talk to them and recommend to me the best solution,’’ he added.
On the government’s stand on 3rd generation deployments, Danabalan said the operators had to fulfil their obligations as per their rollout plan.
“The operators are conducting their trials and they have to come back to us,’’ he said.
Asked if Jaring would be issued a licence for deployment of Internet services on a wireless platform, Dr Lim said: “We do not see why they should not be granted a letter (to do that).’’