Dr Fadhlullah said delays weren’t entirely the telcos’ fault, as various external factors were also slowing down work. — MOHD SAHAR MISNI/The Star The National Digital Infrastructure Plan (Jendela) is behind on its 2020 target for new mobile broadband sites, with telcos expected to deliver 93.1% of the Plan’s target, according to its first quarterly report. Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) chairman Dr Fadhlullah Suhaimi Abdul Malek said 875 of the targeted 940 new sites would be completed by years’ end, although some were still under construction. He said three telcos were behind schedule namely U Mobile with 54 pending towers, followed by Digi with nine towers and Celcom with three, adding that 746 sites (79.4%) had already been completed as of Dec 16. The delays were attributed to various factors, including improper planning and lack of execution discipline by telcos, public protests, state bureaucracy, pending approvals by local authorities, pending site acquisitions and the impact of the conditional movement control order. Dr Fadhlullah however noted that the delays weren’t entirely the telcos’ fault as protests and discussions with state authorities were also slowing work down, adding that the target now was to catch up by the next quarter in 2021. He added that measures would be taken to speed up progress, including escalating matters to State committees on communication and infrastructure development, or seeking the Communications and Multimedia minister’s intervention to engage state and local authorities. As for existing mobile broadband sites, Jendela was forecast to exceed its target as far as upgrading works were concerned, with 16,366 sites out of a targeted 16,214 sites expected to be upgraded by Dec 31 for a forecast completion rate of 100.9%. The report stated that as 16,029 existing sites had already been upgraded as of Dec 16, the current completion rate stood at 98.9%. Dr Fadhlullah praised the Menteri Besar of Johor and Kedah and the Melaka Chief Minister for their efforts to review telecommunication infrastructure as a utility in their respective state assembly. U Mobile chief technology officer Woon Ooi Yuen acknowledged that 33 of the company’s site delays were due to improper planning and lack of execution discipline, though he added that they had delivered 200 sites successfully. During the briefing, he said the telco was working with tower providers and looking to rent from them to hit the site target, before the end of Q1 of 2021.
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