| Azaraimy HH |
THE National Broadband Policy aims to connect at least 80 per cent of households with broadband service by 2017, said Minister of Communications Pehin Orang Kaya Hamzah Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Abdullah bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Hj Bakar.
Speaking at the opening session of the Asia-Pacific ICT Ministerial Meeting yesterday at the Indera Samudera Grand Hall of The Empire Hotel & Country Club, the minister said that in 2013 the number of broadband subscribers increased by 40 per cent.
The rate of broadband use in the Sultanate is climbing steadily, the minister added.
Brunei is expecting this trend to continue with the rolling out of the Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) network, which the minister said, is progressing well, having already connected 22,000 homes with high-speed broadband.
The minister noted that broadband growth in Brunei will be further complemented by increasing the use of mobile broadband.
“We expect massive growth in broadband services following the recent roll-out of 4G LTE by our service provider,” he said.
More and more people are harmonising their lives and livelihoods with broadband technology nowadays. The expansion of FTTH network is progressing fast in Brunei with the robust National Broadband Policy and the National ICT Manpower Masterplan making major strides, underlining the prospect of a massive increase in the use of ICT in the near future, the minister said.
The National Broadband Policy will ensure that people get high-quality broadband services that are price-competitive. The broadband policy focuses on three themes – broadband connectivity for all; improving value, quality and affordability; and maximising the adoption and utilisation of broadband.
The policy will be implemented through deployment of a mix of technologies. Targets are also set for the policy in order to address the core issues of accessibility, affordability, quality and usage. The policy also aims at increasing household broadband penetration to 80 per cent by 2017, enhancing basic broadband speed of at least 2Mbps to be available to 95 per cent of the population, offering at least 20Mbps to 75 per cent of the population by 2017, fixing the retail price for residential high-speed broadband service with broadband speed of at least 20Mbps at less than three per cent of average monthly earnings by 2016, and introduction of competition code and quality services code of practice to ensure a level playing field among service providers and quality of services for consumers.
The minister also highlighted the ICT authority is at the final stage of reviewing the current regulatory framework. The government hopes the revised regulatory framework will facilitate the growth of ICT and multi-media industry, encouraging competition and innovation.
It is to be noted that Brunei is also a party to the harmonisation of the 700Mhz band as per the band plan of Asia-Pacific Telecommunity (APT).
“With this move, we wish to allow more room for growth of new services and maximise technologies to address the issue of accessibility in underserved areas,” the minister said.
The minister also said Brunei welcomes all initiatives to reduce the cost of international mobile roaming charges, on the basis of reciprocity and mutual benefits.
Speaking on the use of Internet in the country, the minister said the Ministry of Communications gives serious attention to ensure safety and security of users.
His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam has called on the need to increase the nation’s capacity and awareness in monitoring, prevention and enforcement with respect to positive use of the Internet, he reminded.
In this regard, the Ministry of Communications has collaborated with various stakeholders to coordinate with multi-agencies in addressing cyber security issues. For example, the Child Online Protection (COP) was formulated with the involvement of various agencies and a sustainable action plan was developed to address Internet-related crimes that target the young and vulnerable in the society.
Brunei also realises that cybersecurity issues and online threats need to be handled through cross-border collaboration, hence the minister said Brunei appreciates platforms such as APT, where these issues are given due attention and addressed.
He also highlighted that Brunei is at the initial but critical stage of developing its National ICT Manpower Masterplan. In support of Brunei Vision 2035 towards creating educated and highly-skilled people, the National ICT Manpower Masterplan aims to harness ICT skills towards productivity and innovation across many sectors of the economy.
For Brunei, capacity building is also focused among our local young talents who will be drivers of the ICT industry, the minister stated. Various agencies in Brunei have launched complementing initiatives to encourage entrepreneurship, enhance skills and professionalism as well as strengthen the standings of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).