CM: Digital economy needs world-class ICT infrastructure

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CM: Digital economy needs world-class ICT infrastructure

KUCHING (4 April 2017): The state government is fully committed to developing digital economy despite Sarawak being far behind in the technology circle.

In order to catch up, the state needs to build a world-class ICT infrastructure, Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said.

Figure 1: Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Abang Openg today rolled out his development strategy to establish the state’s digital economy – a blueprint he dubs “Digital Sarawak”.

For that to happen, he said the state government must take the lead in driving the development of the physical ICT infrastructure, rather than leaving it to commercial operators and service providers and at the pace and mercy of others.

“Enough is enough. If we cannot achieve commercial viability, we will pursue economic feasibility as we need to move our economy into remote areas where none has dared to go before.

“After all, the ICT backbone is the infrastructure that will enable other new industries to flourish.

“This means that the Sarawak government may have to own our own physical networks – as South Korea is doing,” he said at in his keynote address when launching the International ICT Infrastructure and Digital Economy Conference Sarawak (Idecs) 2017 here yesterday.

In addition, the state government might have to integrate and utilise its electricity with telecommunications as well as invest in its own equipment, he pointed out.

“I want to have a network speed that is uninterrupted where you can transmit your data, your video, your media, either through Wi-Fi or your mobile device anytime, any moment without buffering.”

He said the government would also embark on and embrace state-of-the-art technology in data transmission – the Optical Transport Network at Edge – to spur the growth of Sarawak’s economy, adding that the state might have to open up the field to more commercial operators.

To manage the specifications and implementation for the needs of Sarawak, and setting the state’s own rules and regulations and policies, he said the government may need to set up its own multimedia and communications authority.

Besides that, the government was also planning to build 5,000 towers throughout the state in an addition to 1,200 communication towers which it already had, he added.

“Not even 2,000 towers are enough. I want 5,000 towers in Sarawak. We must reach every possible settlement and we must close the gap and cover all the blind spots,” he said.

Abang Johari pointed out that Sarawak currently has a basic ICT infrastructure which is decent enough for personal use and only in selected spots, but not good enough for digital economy.

He noted that the broadband penetration in Sarawak was only 51.8 per cent and in populated areas, broadband coverage was 72.1 per cent with blind spots in lowly populated areas.

“The average wired network speed for Sarawak is estimated at four mbps per household.

“This is nearly seven times slower than South Korea with a network speed of 29 mbps per household according to AKAMAI, World Network Audit Organisation,” he said.

He pointed out that this clearly indicated that Sarawak needs to have a new strategy in developing a physical ICT infrastructure that is sufficient for it to build its Digital Economy and compete globally in the next 5-10 years.

To provide seamless and resilient services, he said the state’s ICT infrastructure must be built wholly on optic fibre with 5G/7G network and IP transit, capable of delivering 20 terabytes through collaboration between Sacofa, SEB Optical Ground Wire (OPGW), Pan Borneo and Telekom Malaysia.

“We also have to ensure a resilient network and reliable data security. There must be fibre interconnection among sub-districts.

“Our computing core must be increased to excess of 10,000 cores. We have to build exabyte with Solid-State Drive (SSD) technology to cater for big data. And we must also have a data analytic engine.”

He also announced the E-Commerce Transformation Plan up to 2030 for youths, better known as E-Com Y30, to prepare youths to graduate as E-Commerce start-ups and entrepreneurs with digital knowledge.

The Chief Minister welcomes global players to build their data warehouse and server farms in the state.

“We have sufficient electricity to power servers and assist us by doing a back-to-back funding for the ICT infrastructure we wish to build.

“By the synergistic use of our natural resources, we can make Sarawak a cyber powerhouse. As with our electricity, we can also sell our network and computing services,” he said.

[Source: “CM: Digital economy needs world-class ICT infrastructure” published by BorneoPost Online]

Photo Credits: BorneoPost Online

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