Digital connectivity in rural S'wak set to improve with signing of six-way MOCN deal

Representatives from SDEC and the four mobile network operators signing the MOCN agreement in Kuching on Friday (May 24). - ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE/The Star

KUCHING: Digital connectivity in rural Sarawak is set to improve through the provision of multi-operator core network (MOCN) services, says state Utility and Telecommunication Minister Datuk Seri Julaihi Narawi.

This comes after Sarawak Digital Economy Corporation Bhd (SDEC) entered agreements with four mobile network operators to provide MOCN services for 600 towers under the Sarawak Multimedia Authority Rural Telecommunication (SMART600) initiative.

The operators are CelcomDigi Bhd, Maxis Broadband Sdn Bhd, U Mobile Sdn Bhd and YTL Communications Sdn Bhd.

"This cooperation is a suitable platform that will enable us to expand Internet connectivity in Sarawak.

"Digital transformation is one of the enablers of our Post-Covid Development Strategy towards becoming a high-income state by 2030, and telecommunication infrastructure and service providers play an important role in this," Julaihi told a press conference after witnessing the agreement signing ceremony here on Friday (May 24).

He said the SMART600 towers were an intervention by the state government to complement the Federal Government's efforts and speed up the provision of Internet coverage in Sarawak.

To date, 512 of the 600 towers have been built.

"Of this, 308 towers are already on air," Julaihi said.

Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil, who was also present, said the agreement was the culmination of many discussions with telecommunication companies (telcos).

He said the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and Finance Ministry would allocate funds totalling RM116mil over three years for the initiative.

"The telcos will provide RM28mil per year for the three-year period, so the total allocation is RM200mil to ensure that the SMART600 towers are equipped with six-way MOCN," he said.

According to SDEC, the agreement marked the first six-way MOCN in Malaysia with connectivity services from Celcom, Digi, Maxis, U Mobile, YTL and the Sarawak Rural Broadband Network (MySRBN).

The initiative is estimated to benefit some 1,000 settlements in rural Sarawak, SDEC said.

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