Cellular coverage in rural Sarawak is expected to improve greatly by next year.

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) is to spend almost RM500 million this year and the next to erect more communications towers, said Deputy Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Joseph Salang.

This was under the Project T-3 programme which covered areas with very small population deep in the interior of the state, he told reporters last night after officiating at a meet-the-people session at a longhouse in Nanga Pedanmun, Pakan, about 60km from here.

Salang said the government had also directed the MCMC to set up more community broadband centres in such areas to help the people, especially students, to access the Internet.

On another matter, he advised traders in the state against wantonly raising the prices of goods in the run-up to the Gawai Dayak festival on June 1.

He said that with two weeks before the Dayak community’s biggest celebration, the people would be spending more and there was a tendency for unscrupulous traders to hike the prices of flour, eggs, chicken and sugar to make excessive profit.

He said he hoped that officials from the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs would go down to the ground regularly to monitor the prices, especially in the rural areas.