Sarawak teens scale great heights for cellular signal

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KUALA LUMPUR — Weak cellular coverage is forcing youths in Sarawak to go to extreme lengths, including climbing tall structures, to obtain service, according to a social activist.

Datuk Wan Abdillah Edruce said that unless the cellular signal strength is improved in the state, the teens may take even greater risks.

He supplied the Borneo Post with a photograph of teens on a water tower in Kampung Serabang near Spaoh, alleging it showed the desperation he was
talking about.

“It is very sad that almost everywhere I go in rural areas, there is no Internet service. If there is any signal, it will be for ‘hello-hello’ services only ― for people to make phone calls, not going online,” he was quoted as saying.

“Without the Internet service, the rural communities here are deprived of many opportunities, especially doing business online like other communities in other parts of Sarawak who are blessed with good connectivity.”

Wan Abdillah said the problem of poor coverage remained despite the state government’s pledge to improve cellular and broadband services.

While conceding that such efforts required time, he insisted service providers appeared uninterested in expanding or improving their networks there.

He said telecommunications firms should take heed of the state government’s announced plans to widen high-speed broadband access in Sarawak.

“I think the telcos should work with the chief minister on his vision for digital economy, and stop waiting.”

The federal government announced a RM1 billion package to improve telecommunications and broadband infrastructure in Sarawak as part of Budget 2018.