The Malaysian government has reportedly allocated MYR470 million (USD137.57 million) to Sarawak under the country’s Universal Service Provision (USP) fund, with a view to narrowing the digital divide in the state over the next five years. According to Bernama, the minister for Information Communication and Culture, Datuk Seri Utama Dr Rais Yatim, said that the investment should boost internet penetration nationally to 50% by the end of 2010 from the current rate of 31.4%. ‘The ministry, through the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), is convinced that the internet penetration rate can be raised with the development of more facilities such as the Broadband Centre (PJL) in rural areas especially in Sabah and Sarawak,’ the minister said of the development. Further, the ministry is reportedly gathering information aimed at ensuring lower-income families could afford to purchase computer in line with their needs, noting: ‘We are now monitoring several suitable products that the people can afford to buy as cheaply as MYR900 per unit of quality computer.’
In addition, it is understood that the MCMC will also construct 203 new telecom towers across Sarawak in stages, with the initial phase of deployment due to commence before the end of March 2010, in a bid to improve mobile voice coverage.