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GEORGE TOWN: Deploying the Terragraph gigabit wireless infrastructure in the Unesco heritage city status of George Town can be done without the need to dig trenches and disrupt the city, says YTL Communications chief executive officer Wing K. Lee.

He said that in the past, the only way to get gigabit speeds was to lay down a fibre optic network, which was costly, inflexible, and time-consuming.

Lee said that the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) had informed YTL Communications that strict adherence to UN architectural guidelines was required, which would have been encountered if the company had to lay down a fibre infrastructure.

“So we invited our friends at Facebook to take this grand challenge to bring a gigabit network to George Town through this unique pilot,” he said, while thanking MBPP for the opportunity.

“The permitting process is complex and once deployed, it can’t be moved to meet market demands, which is why it was love at first sight when we saw Terragraph in Silicon Valley last May,” he added.

Lee said that no new telecommunication towers were needed with Terragraph, which worked by placing small nodes on existing city infrastructure such as lampposts.

“It is extremely green – a single Terragraph node consumes the same amount of electricity as an LED streetlamp,” he said.

He added that the six-month-long pilot project would include the provision of public WiFi and fixed wireless access.

“We will use this opportunity to learn and to explore ways to harness this gigabit wireless technology,” he added.

Earlier Monday, Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo launched the pilot project, saying Malaysia is the second country in the world after Hungary to run trials for Terragraph.

The Terragraph pilot project was timely as it was in line with the National Fiberisation and Connectivity Plan (NFCP) that aims to solve a common urban problem where demand for high-speed broadband is high but access is lacking, Bernama quoted him as saying.

Commencing on March 1, the six-month-long market pilot would include the provision of public WiFi and fixed wireless access that could potentially solve the challenges faced in urban areas with rising bandwidth per square kilometre, legacy copper infrastructure, costly fibre optic, cable deployment, and limited spectrum at lower frequencies, the national news agency said.

Last February, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Facebook’s global head of engineering and infrastructure Jay Parikh announced that the company would run a Terragraph trial in Kuala Lumpur in partnership with Digi.

It is not known why Facebook has instead opted for George Town and YTL Communications.

The Star Online