Behind each deployment of telco towers, there are layers of process that it has to go through including obtaining the necessary approvals from related authorities such as local governments. As you may expect, these permits do carry some cost to the telco or tower companies.
According to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), the most expensive state to deploy new telco towers would be Sarawak. However, when it comes to the total cost of permits within a period of six years, Johor is on the top of the table instead:
Aside from that, MCMC has also shared the figures for network infrastructures that are installed on rooftops. Once again, the permit cost in Sarawak is the highest for new deployments but the biggest overall cost goes to Melaka although the differences between the states were less significant as compared to the cost of permits for a telco tower:
These numbers were shared by the regulator during the JENDELA Q1 2021 media briefing earlier today. They were meant to provide some context on the challenges that the telco industry has to face in order to meet the targets set by the national digital infrastructure plan.
They are also related to the government’s effort to have the Internet to be recognised as the third utility after water and electricity. To make this happen, the policy needs to be accepted not only at the federal level but also by the state governments.
Hence, the regulator has been trying to convince them to lower down all the barriers that may affect the deployment of Internet-related infrastructure including the cost of permits. Its Chairman, Dr Fadhlullah Suhaimi stated that MCMC aims to have the permit cost to be much lower and more uniform among all states but this is obviously not an easy discussion as state governments have to consider the impact of such changes to the state revenue.
Nevertheless, several states have begun to show positive signs including Penang, Melaka, Perak, Pahang, Sarawak, and Terengganu. That being said though, the journey to have Internet as the third utility is still ongoing and Dr Fadhulullah said that MCMC will continue to engage with the state governments regarding this.