Terragraph aims to increase broadband penetration

By MARK RAO / Pic By BERNAMA

Malaysia will become the second country in the world to do a trial run on Terragraph’s wireless network as it looks to expedite broadband coverage nationwide.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo said Malaysia is shifting from fibre alone to fibre and other modes of connectivity, and has identified Terragraph as one of the potential solutions to expedite broadband penetration in the country.

“One of the things we need to do is to look for different types of technology and try to find the best solutions to deal with the problems we have domestically,” he said during a press conference in Penang yesterday.

YTL Communications Sdn Bhd and Facebook Inc are collaborating for the six-month trial launch of Terragraph, the latter’s proprietary technology, in Georgetown, Penang, starting March 1 this year.

The gigabyte (Gb) network will offer public free high-speed Internet and fixed wireless access within the coverage areas over the entirety of the trial and tested at 1.3Gb per second (Gbps) download and 1.7Gbps upload speeds on a 60 gigahertz band.

It further utilises existing “street furniture” to bypass issues of terrain, high cost of fibre-optic cables, trenching works and time required for infrastructure installation. This includes street lamps, traffic lights and utility poles.

The audio recording of the conference was obtained by The Malaysian Reserve.

Gobind said the purpose of the Terragraph pilot project is to determine whether the proposal and the suggested module will work.

“We are not sure if (Terragraph) is going to work. In six months, we will find out what the problems and challenges are,” he said.

“Once we are able to do that, then we will be able to outline what kind of cost we are looking at,” he added.

In Penang, the prevalence of legacy infrastructures and heritage sites makes it difficult to deploy fibre due to extensive infrastructure and trenching works required. Terragraph may bypass the issue via its wireless network and utilisation of existing street infrastructure.

According to Gobind, despite the high penetration of mobile broadband, only 18% of the eight million households in Malaysia have access to high-speed (fibre) broadband.

Gobind said the ministry is in the process of coming up with a criteria to establish the minimum standards required of telcos operating in Malaysia. This is in view of the numerous complaints received by the ministry regarding telco standards in the country, he said.

“We are coming up with minimum standards and we expect them (telcos) to comply,” he said.

“At the end of the day, if you are going to have the whole nation depend on infrastructure not just for technology but the economy as well, then these are standards that we must establish and we must make sure that we keep up with these standards,” the minister added.

He said the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission will come up with a report in respect to this before the ministry initiates the process to implement the minimum standards.