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Friday, October 26, 2007

Pilot project to wire up Penang and Kulim

By theSun

The government along with the private telecommunication sector will be initiating a broadband pilot project to facilitate the fl ow of information, ideas and initiatives in business between Penang and Kulim.

The Penang-Kulim Broadband Pilot Project will be spearheaded by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), which it is learnt will be forking out some RM20 million as an initial investment in the project.

The project is likely to bring about broadband connectivity via more than 100 free internet wired and wireless hotspots in areas like Balik Pulau, Batu Ferringhi and Bayan Lepas on the island, as well as areas such as Kepala Batas, Bukit Mertajam, Batu Kawan, Nibong Tebal on the mainland and the Kulim Hi-Tech Park in Kedah.

Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon said systems for the project would be installed by the end of this year, and would enhance connectivity in cyber cities and cyber centres in Penang and Kulim. “However, our aim is on closing the digital divide in the more rural areas of Penang and Kulim,” he told reporters after delivering a presentation at a Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) conference here on Oct 23.

Currently, the areas of Bayan Lepas, Bertam and Batu Kawan have been designated as Penang cyber cities, and the proposed Penang Global City Centre (PGCC) and Komtar designated as cyber centres.

Koh said the broadband pilot project is based on a survey conducted in Kulim and Penang almost three years ago as part of the National Broadband Plan. “We used this opportunity because Penang is small with a population density that is high enough for us to drive a targeted 90% broadband coverage in the state.

“With the advent with WIMAX attaining more stability capabilities now, I believe that we should be able to achieve that target coverage eventually by 2010,” said Koh, adding that more details would be announced within the next two months.

Koh said more internet hotspots between the areas of Kulim and Penang would be installed by private telco sector, which may or may not be free of charge.

He added that a grant from MCMC is being worked out and that it is undergoing a selection process for the telcos which want to participate in the project.

The household broadband penetration rate in Penang has been rising steadily since 2005 from 14.3% in 2005 to 20.5% in 2006 to 21.3% in the fi rst quarter of 2007.

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