A remote island turned into a global village

How did Simplify transform the lives of sea turtle conservationists?


This article is written in collaboration with Lang Tengah Turtle Watch , a voluntary organization in sea turtle conservation in Malaysia.

Simplify brings Internet access to support Lang Tengah Turtle Watch’s sea turtle conservation effort

Lang Tengah, a tiny tropical island paradise that lies in between the more popular Perhentian and Redang islands in the east coast of Malaysia, has some best kept diving sites and serene beaches in the South China Sea. However, if anyone is thinking about staying connected, Wi-Fi Internet on the island was virtually in non-existence until the Simplify team arrived. Their selfless effort changed the lives of those living on the island thereafter.

The jungle trail to Lang Tengah Turtle Watch campsite at Turtle Bay, Lang Tengah Island.

How Simplify met the Turtle warriors

Internet connectivity on Lang Tengah was totally cut off after a long period of island closure due to COVID-19. In early April 2022, a tiger team from Simplify came on shore to help restore the Internet service at a beach resort on the western side of the island. They brought the Internet back alive in no time. Being adventurous and curious to explore the rest of the island, the team hiked over the hill to reach the southern tip and discovered a secluded beach named Turtle Bay. Amazed by its powdery coral white sand stretch, the site is guarded by a group of young and highly-educated staff, interns and volunteers (a.k.a. turtle warriors) from a local non-governmental organization (NGO) called Lang Tengah Turtle Watch (LTTW). This organization focuses on sea turtle monitoring and research, coral restoration efforts, and awareness raising through educational outreach activities on the island. Nonetheless, Internet connectivity and mobile communication near the campsite was found to be intermittent, due to extremely weak cellular signals. Inspired by LTTW’s noble initiative, the Simplify team reached out to offer them a solution.

When contacted, LTTW principal officer, Long Seh Ling, spoke about how they were frequently confronted with near zero Internet access. Their team has to hike all the way to the neighboring resorts to get connected in order to receive emails, send reports or hold virtual meetings. Besides, they solely rely on solar inverters for limited time electricity usage at the campsite, which creates another constraint to barely power up only a few electronic devices. This has hampered the organization’s ability in a variety of ways.

Long Seh Ling, the Principal Officer and Azrin Asyikin, the Site Co-Manager, at Lang Tengah Turtle Watch.

Simplify WiFi for Lang Tengah’s turtle conservation effort

A simple yet effective solution to alleviate such daily obstacles is to own a Simplify Starter Pack, which bundles a plug-and-play 4G WiFi router with an unlimited data SIM. The router comes with high-gain built-in antennas that provide better mobile signal reception, with no cabling needed, making it easy to deploy at remote sites like Lang Tengah Island. The team returned to the island to install the WiFi, bringing the Internet speed close to 20Mbps from none, empowering the turtle warriors at Turtle Bay to stay connected at all times. Subsequently, another Starter Pack is currently being deployed at Tanjong Jara Resort while another one will be deployed at Cakar Hutan Beach on the mainland, also operated by LTTW.

The project site at Lang Tengah is more critical as compared to Tanjong Jara Resort and Cakar Hutan Beach because the location itself is inaccessible to the public and covered with overgrown trees. Prior to having Simplify Starter Pack, the LTTW team often has to run back and forth over a hill to either Dewati Restaurant or D'Coconut Lagoon Island Resort to conduct online meetings, upload data and prepare reports using their mobile data. According to Azrin Asyikin, the site co-manager at Lang Tengah, they were unable to conduct virtual tours for students wanting to learn about turtle conservation due to lack of Internet access. The team often has to record videos and email to schools, which limits the overall engagement and interactivity. With Simplify Starter Pack, things shall improve.

Simplify team helps set up Wi-Fi Internet at Lang Tengah Turtle Watch’s campsite

The project site at Tanjong Jara also faced a similar challenge. Seh Ling expressed how Simplify Starter Pack totally changed the way they work, from relying solely on personal hotspot to sharing WiFi on Simplify. Now, the turtle warriors on site can effortlessly browse the Internet while running Zoom meetings to connect with other volunteers from other sites online. This has been a huge relief for her and her team, and it has undoubtedly improved their lives by turning their sites into a global village.

Bakary Kante from Simplify was trying to power up the Starter Pack router using solar inverter near the campsite

Challenging deployment on remote island

A successful WiFi deployment on the island didn’t come without challenges. Firstly, finding a good mobile signal is like finding gold with a metal detector. Carrying a Simplify Starter Pack in his arm, Bakary Kante, a Software Champion at Simplify, began by searching for signals and assessing Internet speed surrounding the campsite.

Next, the power issue. The site is completely off-grid. The team had to think outside the box by connecting the Starter Pack router to a solar inverter in order to stably receive 4G signal, in a sustainable manner. Nonetheless, the Simplify team's commitment, dedication, and hard work for LTTW has helped improve communications and collaborations. Now it is safer and better for the turtle warriors to stay connected with everyone at the campsite especially after nightfall.

Super-delighted turtle warriors who finally get to stream video content all the way from the campsite

Knowing that staff, interns and volunteers at LTTW are working tirelessly to protect sea turtles from extinction, Simplify admires all the turtle warriors’ bravery and is eager to be an integral part of turtle conservation effort in any manner necessary. Being a socially responsible company, Simplify never stops giving back to the community. The company has also sponsored Starter Pack for a nursing home in Ipoh previously.

One of the outgrowths behind Simplify’s mission is to provide affordable Internet to everyone in order to create a more sustainable networked society. Simplify aims to empower more aspiring organizations and participate in sustainability projects that let more people stay connected with better Internet speed and services. The selfless work such as Lang Tengah Turtle Watch should be further supported and now, turtle warriors can simply work, stay connected and share their stories with the rest of the world all from Lang Tengah Island.