KUALA LUMPUR: The Government is working with telecommunication companies to identify suitable areas where the firms can build and share telecommunication towers to replace existing unsightly ones which are said to be mushrooming.
Multimedia, Energy and Communications Deputy Minister Datuk Tan Chai Ho said that initially, priority areas would be those along highways and tourist spots.
“We are discussing with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission and the companies on how one firm can build a single tower in an area and share it with the others,” he told reporters after launching a quarterly multimedia magazine, MyMultimedia, at the ministry yesterday.
He said existing towers would be taken down and the companies would then erect single towers to be shared.
“We are mapping out these priority areas. Within six months, we expect to see more of these new telecommunication towers.”
Tan, who was commenting on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s call for telecommunication companies to share towers instead of building a tower each in the same area, said: “It is more practical for one company to build a single tower which will be used by at least three other companies.”
So far, only Putrajaya and the Multimedia Super Corridor have single telecommunication towers whichh were built by one telecommunication company and shared by a few others, he noted.
On Dr Mahathir’s proposal that telcos should strive to provide cellphone coverage to every part of the country, Tan said the companies should be prepared to share resources to erect towers which could provide wider and better coverage.
“If they shared resources to build a single tower which can provide wide coverage, they will be able to save costs.”
There are five telcos in the country, namely Telekom Bhd, Maxis Communications Bhd, Celcom Bhd, Digi.com Bhd and Time dotCom Bhd.
On the recent development of the Rural Internet programme aimed at bridging the digital divide between urban and rural areas, Tan said the Government was extending the programme this year by using 42 more post offices as venues for the programme to train rural folks to be Internet-savvy.
“We are working with Pos Malaysia so that more post offices can be used as training centres to enable rural folk to have Internet access.”
“Each centre will now be provided with at least five PCs and there will be a supervisor to teach the public to use the PCs,” he said, adding that the Government also hoped to train more than 4,000 rural folk to use PCs this year.
He said more than 350 rural folk underwent the training in its pilot project in Sungai Air Tawar (Selangor), Bau (Sarawak) and Kota Marudu (Sabah) from September to November last year.
Datuk Amar Leo Moggie said telecommunication companies should compete not in terms of providing wide coverage but in terms of providing quality service and pricing structure.
”We have been pushing hard for a communications service industry and have asked operators to work towards domestic roaming because mobile phone coverage is a necessity to the people,” the Multimedia, Energy and Communications Minister told reporters after launching Percetakan Nasional Malaysia Bhd’s portal in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.