1. History was made today when Penang became the first State Government to host a high-level meeting between the Chief Minister with the CEOs of seven telecommunications companies (telcos) as well as the Chairman of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).
2. The objective of this meeting is to spearhead the development of telecommunications infrastructure in Penang in line with the Penang 2030 vision of a “Family-Friendly Green and Smart State to Inspire the Nation”.
3. Under the Penang 2030 pillar of being a smart state, the Penang State Government understands the need to have a well-developed and robust telecommunications network infrastructure in order to support our smart city initiatives.
4. Penang welcomes the recent announcement by MCMC on the National Fiberisation and Connectivity Plan (NFCP), which has been developed to address the need to improve broadband quality and coverage, reduce prices to the consumer, enable Internet access for all and expand fibre networks. This is critical as Malaysia seeks to take advantage of the vast opportunities offered in the digital era. Hence, the NFCP is intended to provide a clear strategic direction for the implementation of policies and initiatives that will enable and support the growing digital economy.
5. According to MCMC, Penang has achieved 100% penetration in 3G network coverage and 97.7% in 4G LTE. This is above the national average of 81.6% and 79.6% respectively. In terms of broadband coverage and average download speeds, Penang is one of the highest in the country.
6. While Penang is currently a digital front-runner in Malaysia, we cannot afford to rest on our laurels. In this regard, we realise that our ambitions cannot be met without the cooperation and collaboration of all stakeholders, including the Penang State Government, MCMC as the regulator and of course all the telecommunications providers.
7. Hence, we are happy to announce that after this morning’s discussions, we have agreed to the joint formulation of the Penang Connectivity Master Plan that will be facilitated by the State, guided by MCMC and delivered by the telcos.
8. In order for the Penang Connectivity Master Plan to materialise, a task force with a three-tier structure will be formalised as follows:
a. The Executive level to be chaired by the Chief Minister with membership consisting of all 7 Telco CEOs as well as the regulator MCMC. Meetings will be held three to four times a year.
b. The Steering Committee level to be chaired by the State Executive Councillor for Public Works, Utilities and Flood Mitigation with membership consisting of the senior management of the seven telcos, the regulator MCMC as well as other relevant government agencies and departments. Meetings will be held monthly.
c. The Working Committee level will be split into three focus groups i.e. governance, infrastructure and public advocacy. This level will be coordinated by the Local Government Division of the Penang State Government. Meetings will be held regularly as needed.
9. The Penang Connectivity Master Plan will be a clear blueprint for the coordination, planning and execution of all telecommunications related matters in Penang. It will also be guided by Federal-driven policies such as the NFCP.
10. The Master Plan aims to fulfil the demands of the public and industry, address the challenges faced by the telcos in infrastructure rollout, and also optimise and improve State policies and governance procedures in order to facilitate the efficient development of Penang’s digital needs.
11. All parties have given their full commitment to completing the Penang Connectivity Master Plan by the end of this year.
12. It is hoped that Penang will not only continue to lead but also become a showcase to all other states in Malaysia.
Zairil Khir Johari
Penang State Executive Councillor for Public Works, Utilities and Flood Mitigation
NB: This press statement was issued on 11 May 2019 in George Town