VARIOUS telecommunication players will be called together to improve the services of the current WiFi Smart Selangor programme in the state.
Selangor Infrastructure and Public Amenities, Agriculture, and Agro-Industry Committee chairman Izham Hashim said in an unprecedented move, the state would be sitting down with telco players to better the digital infrastructure for the WiFi Smart Selangor programme.
He said the companies would be put under a digital infrastructure committee spearheaded by Smart Selangor Delivery Unit (SSDU) and Smartsel.
“SSDU will put their plan forward, and we will see which company is willing to invest in developing the corridor and digital infrastructure,” he said.
A meeting was recently held with 10 of the major players where SSDU briefed them about the state’s initiative, including the development of the Selangor Wide Area Network (Swan).
“Through this new committee, telco companies will be informed of the prioritised initiatives, and invited to provide input and solutions. The committee will also discuss the best business model for the initiatives,” he added.
Izham said the idea was to give the private companies an opportunity to work together with the state to improve the infrastructure, or risk having the business given to small-time players.
“We have been getting a lot of offers from smaller players. We are not short of investors, so we will see if they are willing to take up the project,” he added.
According to him, smaller players were ready to provide the services at lower rates, making it an attractive offer for the state.
The pressure now, he said, was on the telco companies to take up the challenge.
Selangor, he added, was planning to provide high-speed broadband throughout the state in stages.
The WiFi Smart Selangor service has been funded by the Mentri Besar Incorporated (MBI) since 2015. However, in June last year, the services were handed over to Smartsel Sdn Bhd, a digital infrastructure company wholly owned by MBI, to manage.
WiFi Smart Selangor installation was done by its main supplier Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) and Celcom Mobile Sdn Bhd.
“The two main issues are the coverage area, especially in rural and suburban locations that do not have fibre optic bandwidth; and in highly populated areas with Internet-savvy users, the overall speed and customer satisfaction,” added Izham.
The state has now managed to increase the optical fibre speed from 30Mbps to 50Mbps and 100Mbps, as well as increase the user’s speed from 1Mbps to 4Mbps.
Izham said for Streamyx users, the state was working on increasing back haul speed to at least 10Mbps as well as users’ Internet speed from 512kbps to 1Mbps.
Kampung Tunku assemblyman Lim Yi Wei said it was a good thing that the state was looking into the infrastructure needed.
“I hope the major players come onboard. I would be curious to know how that synchronises with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC)’s plan to increase Internet speeds nationwide,” she said.
However, Lim said she would like to see improvements focused on WiFi Smart Selangor’s objective of reducing the digital divide between urban and rural areas.
In a more urban area like Kampug Tunku in Selangor, digital literacy is a challenge.
“Most residents, including senior citizens, have smartphones with data plans, but not all are digitally savvy when it comes to accessing government services and information,” she said.
For areas like this, she said education and campaigns would work better instead of free WiFi.
The assemblymen then can inform and guide residents on how to use systems like MBPJ’s e-Aduan or Bantuan Sihat Smart Selangor, and provide accurate information on viral social media messages.
Pandamaran assemblyman Tony Leong Tuck Chee, meanwhile, said free WiFi would benefit those living in low-cost flats.
He said many could afford to purchase their own WiFi dongle and would welcome the WiFi Smart Selangor service.
This, he said, would be the first step for the state government to disseminate vital information on services provided for Selangor folk.
“Free WiFi would enable them to follow announcements on our social media platform with relative ease as soon as programmes are announced,” he added.