Celcom and Risda to bring the Internet to more rural areas

  • Unlimited calls and SMSes, and 64Kbps Internet access, for US$5 a month
  • Risda will also disseminate news and info to smallholders via Celcom
Celcom and Risda to bring the Internet to more rural areas

CELCOM Axiata Bhd and the Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority (Risda) will work together to bring greater Internet connectivity to those living in rural areas as well as those working in rubber plantations.
Under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two, Celcom will provide a special prepaid plan called Xpax@KKLW targeted at smallholders and rural folk. KKLW is the Malay-language acronym for the Rural and Regional Development Ministry, under whose purview Risda falls.
Xpax@KKLW offers unlimited calls and SMSes as well as basic 64Kbps Internet access for RM20 (US$5) a month.
Telco bills for subscribers in rural areas normally amount to RM80 a month, according to Celcom Axiata chief executive officer Shazalli Ramly (pic above), adding that 1.1 million rural households in Malaysia would be eligible for the prepaid plan.
“We have already invested RM1.2 billion (US$300 million) in infrastructure but the users are not there, as smartphone penetration in rural areas is still low,” he said after the MoU signing ceremony in Kuala Lumpur on Aug 11.
“The aim here is to get more users to make use of our infrastructure and to increase our subscriber base,” he added.
Under the MoU, Risda would also disseminate news and information related to smallholders’ activities via its collaboration with Celcom. It is currently not known what form this would take, with more details expected when Xpax@KKLW is officially launched in September.
Risda chairman Zahidi Zainal Abidin said that rural folk need access to information just like their urban counterparts.
“This would allow Risda to better connect with smallholders, allowing us to inform them about matters that could affect their livelihood,” he said.
As an example, he said that Risda would be able to notify smallholders on the government assistance available to them, the minimum price of rubber, and how to avoid unlicensed middlemen cutting into their earnings.
Celcom, Risda and the Rural and Regional Development Ministry will also work together to develop an app by the second half of next year.
The app would give Xpax@KKLW subscribers zero-rated access to specific sites endorsed by the ministry.
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