The empowerment of the digital economy depends heavily on the strength and quality of the Internet
In this day and age, aside from being a platform that allows us to share information and communicate beyond our borders, the Internet is fundamental to the digital economy.
Nearly all of us communicate online, particularly through social networking sites and apps such as Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WeChat and many others.
This in turn makes our smartphones part and parcel of our lives for they are our gateway to the Internet, as if everything that we need is at our fingertips.
For that, like the Internet, these mobile devices are considered vital tools in the digital economy because they are key components in digitisation.
When we talk about the Internet or the digital economy, we shouldn’t limit our conversation to how fast information can be channelled online.
Rather, we need to look at the quality and coverage of broadband services, the availability of digital infrastructure and the strength of the digital workforce – if they are, say, respectively of low quality, incomplete and insufficient, then it can be said that the implementation of a region’s digital economy is still at its infancy.
Thus, if the Sarawak Government truly wants to empower its digital economy, efforts to improve communication infrastructure either through fibre optics or satellite must be carried out.
This is because for the entrepreneurial community, especially those running small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the digital economy provides them the opportunity to close the marketing gap and even expand their market from Sarawak to the rest of Malaysia and even the world.
Businesses view the Internet not just as a means of communicating with their customers, but also as a medium to broaden their profits in a larger market, because the Internet offers immense potential in numerous field particularly in commerce.
To illustrate, electronic commerce or e-commerce is now very popular among enterprises both small and large, more so as they take advantage of social media to reach out to their current and potential customers.
It is for these reasons that many within the business community hope that efforts to ensure that Sarawak is wholly connected to the Internet will be achieved soon due to how it can benefit Sarawakians in terms of communication and participation in online commerce.
Enhancing Internet Connectivity in Rural Sarawak
Due to broadband speed constraints in rural areas of Sarawak, the Sarawak Government has taken new and innovative initiatives by using Fixed Wireless Broadband (FWB), in which high-speed broadband services can be provided among the rural population.
The Government, through Sarawak Digital Economy Corporation (SDEC), is undertaking these initiatives via Sarawak Rural Broadband Network (MySRBN) that aims to provide Internet facilities in rural areas that lack Internet coverage.
The programme is implemented as a solution to enhancing Internet connectivity in rural areas because the Government wants the rural population to enjoy the same opportunities as their urban counterparts.
Through MySRBN, rural communities will be able to thrive as communities driven by data and innovation, and improve their livelihoods through e-commerce, where they can earn income from marketing their products online.
They will also have greater access to government services that are available online without the need to travel far to physical premises, including bill payment and assistance application.
Needless to say, MySRBN is a highly beneficial initiative and it is hoped that those who are within its coverage make full use of its Internet facilities.