MCMC chairman Dr Fadhlullah Suhaimi Abdul Malek. — MOHD SAHAR MISNI/The Star KUALA LUMPUR: Understanding the importance of the National Digital Infrastructure Plan (Jendela) by the state authorities is paramount in order for them to cooperate and get on board the digital bandwagon, said the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC). Chairman Dr Fadhlullah Suhaimi Abdul Malek said many of state authorities are not turning MCMC away, but instead are doing a lot of work to meet the requirements. "This is where communication is really pivotal. The COVID-19 pandemic has made authorities realise the importance of telecommunications (telco) infrastructures. "It is a silver lining...we think this is about the right time for us to embark on this (building telco infrastructures) because we’ve seen some traction in view that the states are now competing against each other (for better technology) and it is our little way of convincing them (via Jendela),” he told Bernama. He said this when appearing as a guest on Bernama TV’s The Nation talk show programme aired today. On the challenges faced in embarking on this exercise, Fadhlullah Suhaimi said telco operators in the states need to lay fibre optic cables and erect towers, which means they will actually have to deal with land-related matters. "You’ve got to engage the land office to give you approval to use the land in the manner that you’re going to use it,” he said. The processes include the categorisation of the land as well as size of the land that allows the newly categorised activities, in accordance to the laws of the country. Once the operators have overcome the land matters, which could take months and sometimes up to a year, the operators need to go to the local authorities wherein they have to conform to another set of rules. "Imagine, you go down to the state and there are many departments that you’ve got to get approvals (from), and because of that, you have hurdles along the way which will then cause a very long delay as there are pre-requirements for everything,” said Fadhlullah Suhaimi. He said the preparation would be much easier if everything are in place, and this is why the Commission is pushing for the policies to make telecommunications as the third utility. "(On the masses’ perception) I think today because of social media, we have a lot of access to information - right, wrong and grey information. "Usually that’s the case with new towers for mobile infrastructure, where people are always worried about electronic magnetic fields (EMF). "Some would say if you’re exposed to it, you’ll get cancer, hence, they don’t want to live near it as it might decrease their land value, although they (still) want (cellular) service in their house, but never (erect towers) in their backyard. "This is where the challenge is, little do they realise the microwave that you have in your house emits higher level of EMF than the tower that’s there 24 hours a day, seven days a week...you need to figure out which causes cancer,” he said. Fadhlullah Suhaimi said MCMC will continue to engage and create awareness and ensure that other agencies will also get on board to continue to advocate but behavioural change in perception is not something that happens overnight as it needs to be continuous. Because of Jendela, MCMC is actually getting the network planners to replan the network. "Before, people plan the network to cater to traffic within a given area but because of COVID-19, we saw a shift in traffic movement and therefore with Jendela, you’ll have closer to a uniformed capacity layout. "This means irrespective of whether you are in town, suburban or rural (areas) -- the network would be spread out evenly, that is the intention of Jendela,” he added. - Bernama
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