The demand for greater cellular connectivity is steadily increasing not only because of the rise of new residential areas, but also because of an increase in user mobility and data usage per person. In fact we can observe that at the same price as 5 years ago, telco packages are now offering much higher monthly data quotas to their subscribers.
When there is demand, naturally the development of telecommunication infrastructure (telco infra) should take place. The demand can be categorised as the following three:
Local demand (complaints) from residents;
The government deems a place in need of better connectivity, despite insufficient requests or complaints from residents; and
The expanding of coverage as part of commercial strategies by telco companies.
In the case of Melaka, when I first took over the portfolio of communication, I was shocked to learn that, on average the government had only been building on average 30 telco infra a year from 2015 to 2017, even though demand was observed at over 100 sites across the state. From January to April 2018, only 6 telco infrastructures were built.
Since then, I have worked with a few agencies and taken measures to solve the problem systematically. First, a special task force (Jawatankuasa Bertindak Infrastruktur Telekomunikasi) was formed to study the internal approval process for telco infra (telco towers) to be built. Typically, even when there was no major issue, a tower could take anywhere from 6 to 9 months just to get the necessary approvals from all related agencies before construction and installation could start. With our new special task force streamlining the process, the Melaka government can now greenlight a telco tower construction within 3 to 4 months assuming no further complications arise.
To better communicate with residents with regards to presumed health-related risks of telco infra, I have also collaborated with Malaysian Nuclear Agency,which is dedicated to assess radiation levels of telco infra. As a result, Melaka became the first state in the country to label telco towers with QR codes. A quick scan on the code would reveal the radiation levels as checked by the Malaysian Nuclear Agency, as well as the permits obtained for building the structure.
I also announced in December 2018 that the Melaka state government will allow any company, as long as capable, to be placed on the ‘Smart Partner’ panel list to build telco towers. This is to allow healthy competition and ensure that we always get to pick the best contractor in the business.
The reforms mentioned above have brought drastic improvements in the development of telco infra in Melaka. After GE14, from May 2018 to December 2018, we have managed to build 55 telco towers according to demand. This means improvement of cellular connectivity in 55 areas in Melaka. These numbers are almost double the amount of what Barisan Nasional could achieve in one year. I had also announced that Melaka is ready to build 100 telco infrastructures in 2019 according to the waiting list (subjected to telco’s budget).
Living in this digital era means that we rely heavily on cellular connectivity to conduct our daily activities. By equipping Melaka with sufficient telco infra, we will pave way for more advanced technology in the future, such as Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, Smart City, Cloud System, Artificial Intelligence of Things (AIoT) and 5G.
Complaint forms have also been distributed to the Japerun offices of all 28 state constituencies (DUNs) in Melaka. If your area is lacking in stable cellular connection, you may visit the Japerun office at your DUN to fill and submit the form.