Multi-functional smart street poles for better connectivity

SMART street poles with multi telecommunication functions will be installed under the state’s Penang Connectivity Master Plan (PCMP).

Penang infrastructure committee chairman Zairil Khir Johari said the state was finalising guidelines with stakeholders before calling for a request for proposal (RFP).

He said the multi-functional poles would be equipped with LED lights, telco antennas, microwave dishes coupled with at least two smart components such as closed-circuit television cameras or free WiFi.

“The poles are designed to support telecommunication connectivity throughout the state using a fibre back haul.

“This is a preliminary effort to support 5G in Penang next year,” he said at the state assembly meeting yesterday.

A smart pole is designed to provide low height, street-level coverage or ‘gap filler’ for capacity or coverage blind spot.

It is suitable for sites currently not able to be addressed by conventional macro structures such as tower, monopole, lamp pole or rooftop sites.

Zairil said some of the smart street poles would have WiFi services, depending on the location.

“Some locations are not populated, therefore, there is no need for WiFi,” he said, adding that the project could be an alternative to the Penang Free WiFi initiative.

To a question by Joseph Ng (PH-Ayer Itam) on the state’s efforts in improving its Internet connectivity, Zairil said the state was collaborating with nine telecommunications service providers to come up with the PCMP.

“We have called for RFP twice for the old Penang Free WiFi service but there was no interest, hence the project termination,” he said.

Zairil said the state had carried out a few pilot projects with the smart street poles.

“It turned out the poles were good enough to hook on WiFi transmitters,” he said.

The Penang Free WiFi services launched in 2009 was discontinued indefinitely from Feb 12, 2019 after a survey found that its services were far from satisfactory.

It was reported that there had been a high number of complaints on the WiFi services and that the cost to maintain did not commensurate with the quality of services.

The state government then decided to rebrand the services with a RFP for creative and innovative ideas from companies involved in telecommunications infrastructure.

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