The Penang government will be installing new “smart street poles” under its Penang Connectivity Master Plan (PCMP), with the aim of providing free WiFi access among other telecommunication functions across the state. The plan was announced earlier today by state executive councillor Zairil Khir Johari, who noted that the project is also intended to replace the Penang Free WiFi service that was discontinued in 2019.
Zairil added that a few of the smart street poles have already been installed as part of a pilot trial. The project was initially planned to be rolled out last year, but was delayed due to the recent lockdown caused by the increasing number of COVID-19 cases. “The state government has decided to continue with this project so an RFP (request for proposal) will be called soon with cooperation from the local authorities, maybe we can do it by district,” he said.
In a query response from the Malay Mail, Zairil explained that the pilot smart street poles were installed and funded by a telecommunications company, although he did not specify it by name. When asked regarding the efforts that the state is taking to improve internet connectivity, Zairil explained that Penang is collaborating with nine telco service providers to come up with the PCMP. The nine mentioned are Celcom, Maxis, Digi, UMobile, Telekom Malaysia, TIME dotcom, YTL Communications, Webe Digital, and Allo Technology.
The councillor aims to have the smart street poles to be installed in public areas including markets, schools, and hospitals. He said that aside from transmitting WiFi connectivity, the poles are also capable of supporting other functionalities such as CCTV monitoring, certain sensors, and even telecommunication transmissions. In regards to the latter, the poles might also play a role in the eventual rollout of 5G in the state, he added.
Zairil says that the state will be studying the guidelines on the proposed project with various stakeholders, and is expecting the RFP to be issued by the end of the year.