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Penang reveals 19 5G demonstration projects

Image Credits: The Malay Mail, News Article

The Penang government announced that it is rolling out RM23.2 million worth of 5G demonstration projects in collaboration with seven telecommunications (telco) companies before fully rolling out 5G connectivity later this year.

The Chairman of the Public Works, Utilities and Flood Mitigation Committee stated that the 19 projects are fully funded by the telco companies.

These projects are use cases in 5G – a new technology – and the government needs the use cases to make it viable especially in the commercial sector, the Chairman stated in a press conference after the official launch of the 5G projects in Komtar on 4 February 2020.

The purpose of the use cases was to ensure the applications are beneficial to various sectors, namely in smart city governance, manufacturing and tourism.

The 19 projects included collaborations between several telecoms as well as various government bodies such as Penang Island City Council (MBPP), Tourism Penang, Malaysian Airport Holding Berhad, Penang Hill Corporation, Prasarana Malaysia Berhad and Penang Development Corporation. There were also collaborative projects with factories.

Among the projects were 5G live streaming at the Penang International Airport, ultra-high-speed internet access and virtual tourism experience at Penang Hill, smart facial recognition and smart production automation and monitoring in Hotayi, smart building in Komtar, smart safety and security, smart traffic light and smart parking around Komtar area and fixed wireless access at the ferry terminal.

These use cases were to prove the efficiency of the connectivity for commercial uses, such as an improvement in production in Hotayi.

The 5G connectivity will be fully rolled out by the third quarter of this year when the state will award the 5G spectrum to telcos.

The telcos that plan on investing in 5G infrastructure had to make sure there is a return for their investment through these use cases.

The aim is to be prepared by September 2020 as the state will be hosting the World Congress on Information Technology 2020 then.

Penang is now also working on its Penang Connectivity Master Plan to ensure the provision of coverage through fiberisation in every household in the state.

It is expensive to fiberise every house so the state has to look into other ways to introduce fibre optics connectivity, such as laying fibre cables through the drainage system or aerially.

A few pilot projects have been tried in Minden Heights and Butterworth and it is one cost-effective way to bring fibre to the people but this must be done in a controlled environment. Moreover, guidelines must be developed and it must be made sure that the projects do not disrupt council properties.

The masterplan is expected to be completed by September this year and it will be a 10-year plan to roll out more infrastructure along with 5G connectivity to ensure coverage for everyone in the state.

Penang has very good coverage where almost all areas are covered with 4G connectivity but the capacity in the state is still lower than other states.

The Chairman noted that the state is lacking in the capacity (i.e., there is a crowd, the capacity is not enough). The masterplan will also look at improving the capacity in Penang.

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