Current trends indicate that 2/3 of the world’s total population should be online by this time next year, with expectation of connected activity continuing to increase. The Internet has been growing at an incredible rate with 27,000 new users every hour showing how incredibly fast the world is changing and adopting to digital connectivity. (References here and here)
The need to promote digital connectivity is clear and urgent as the world is becoming increasingly digital. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that connectivity is no longer a luxury but a lifeline for working, learning, keeping in touch and accessing essential services.
Currently, about 92% of the households in Brunei are covered with fibre, ready to deliver broadband services, while 90% of it is covered for mobile services based on latest technology which is 5G-ready.
The latest Global Median Speed reports from Ookla reveal that the world’s median mobile internet connection is at 30.37Mbps and fixed broadband connection is at 67.25Mbps. While Brunei is ranked number 1 in ASEAN and number 14 in the world surpassing Singapore (rank 18th) in mobile internet connection, it fared less impressively at number 99 globally with its fixed broadband median speed. (Reference here.)
Speedtest Global Index rankings are based on median download speed to best reflect the speeds a user is likely to achieve in a market. Mbps or Megabits per second is the standard measure of broadband speed. It refers to the speed with which data is downloaded from, or uploaded to, the internet.
In ensuring inclusive access to connectivity, UNN’s Rural Development Program for fibre rollout and additional base stations are being planned and carried out to reach difficult-to-access rural areas.
38 rural locations have been planned across Belait, Tutong and Temburong, and include areas in Kg Long Mayan, Kg Sukang, Kg Melilas, Kg Biadong Ulu, Kg Senukoh, Kg Parit Amo to name a few. 4 rural locations namely Kg Rampayoh, Kg Menegah Lamunin, Kg Kuala Abang and Kg Bukit Barun are already on air and providing mobile coverage to previously uncovered areas.
Whilst 5G is on everybody’s mind and was a central topic during the Brunei Mid-Year Conference and Exhibition (MYCE) 2022 with a commercial launch teased to be ready in its preparation and infrastructure, it is important to transform 5G ideas and visions into actionable activities as well as identify and test applications that will lay the building blocks and create value for the Digital Economy in the Sultanate.
Besides the modernization of the infrastructure and introduction of new technologies, the affordability, speed, and security are also part of achieving reliable digital connectivity. Meaningful digital connectivity is a level of connectivity that allows users to have a safe, satisfying, enriching and productive online experience at an affordable cost. Below is the journey the Brunei Telecommunications Industry has achieved towards meaningful digital connectivity thus far.
April 2021: Refreshed tariffs to further reduce the pricing of entry-level plans and provide higher speed in line with the national agenda. Thus, offering productive online experience at affordable cost.
December 2021: Launch of Brunei’s first locally hosted commercial cloud service, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). Thus, providing support to an enriching and productive online experience.
February 2022: Launch of DDoS Defence, a fully managed and automated cybersecurity service designed to protect local companies from malicious threats and ensures service remains uninterrupted during DDoS Defense. Thus, offering a safe online experience.
April 2022: Support the Government’s e-Education Solution where 15,000 units of laptops and more than 1,700 mobile dongles (devices) are rolled out to provide accessibility of learning tools for teachers and students. Thus, providing access to safe and productive online experience.
September 2022: First fixed broadband uplift with the objective of bringing the baseline speed up to at least 50Mbps. Thus, offering satisfying and enriching online experience.
Future Initiatives: 5G Pilot, Launch of 5G, expansion of rural coverage, further broadband uplifts and more to reach meaningful digital connectivity – a level of connectivity that allows users to have a safe, satisfying, enriching and productive experience at an affordable cost.
In keeping with its momentum to actively drive the transformation of the whole telecommunication industry and elevate the country to meet the global standards, the Brunei Telecommunications Industry will be uplifting fixed broadband speeds next month with the objective to bringing the baseline speed up to at least 50Mbps. In this way, UNN and its partners are ensuring that the country and its population achieve meaningful digital connectivity.
“Broadband connectivity, specifically fixed broadband, empowers the public during pandemic to remotely work, study and play. The fixed broadband uplift will ensure better experience for the public,” said Radin Sufri Radin Basiuni, CEO of Datastream Digital (DST). “DST, in support of the fixed broadband uplift will commence fixed broadband speed uplift on 1st September 2022 to our Infinity subscribers at no additional charges and no extension of their current service contract. In furtherance to that, DST will be able to address other needs of its Infinity subscribers, other than speed. There will be choices that will address its Infinity subscribers experience.”
Adds Suzanna Suharju, CEO of imagine Sdn Bhd, “The advancement in Brunei's telecommunications network through UNN will provide Bruneians with maximum opportunity to explore, create and imagine what's next through next-gen telecomms solution whether for home, for work, or on the move. As our imagineers continue to support the development of ICT in the country, imagine is committed to provide the best customer experience in the industry that goes beyond connectivity."
Similar in stride, Hjh Nurul Haniah Jaafar, CEO of Progresif Sdn Bhd remarked, “With the latest broadband uplift led by the industry, this will fulfil streaming or online experience for the people of Brunei. At Progresif, it is our mission to ensure we help unlock possibilities so Bruneians can enjoy the benefits of a connected, inspired, and progressive life which is why we believe in providing them affordable packages and an unrivalled customer experience.”
All the telecommunications service providers (telcos) within the Darussalam Assets Sdn Bhd (DA) Group of Companies, supported by Authority for Info-Communications Technology Industry (AITI) champions the nation’s progress towards transforming Brunei into a Smart Nation aligned with the Digital Economy Masterplan 2025 and Wawasan 2035. Wth the latest initiative to be driven by the telcos, this national broadband uplift to be launched on 1st September 2022 aims to improve customer experience with services that are more affordable for all.