Brunei getting ready to embrace 5G

Hakim Hayat

The Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry of Brunei Darussalam (AITI) has completed its study on Brunei Darussalam’s readiness to embrace 5G as the technology of tomorrow, and pilot projects will be implemented in due course, Minister of Transport and Infocommunications Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib bin Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Haji Mohammad Yusof said yesterday.

He made the remarks yesterday in his opening keynote address at the Local Business Development (LBD) Programme 2019 themed ‘The Next Level: How to Leverage the Digital Revolution.’

He said, from the concluded study, a set of policy recommendations (including market, regulatory and network operator readiness and 5G pilot projects, among others) has been endorsed and will be implemented soon, signalling his ministry’s enthusiasm to see the participation of the industry in the 5G pilot trials or other pilot smart projects that will help accelerate the national digital transformation agenda.

Touching on the area of digital economy during the event at the Empire Hotel & Country Club, The minister said that as the world explores the potentials of the digital economy, new challenges such as the digital divide emerge, requiring new approaches.

The minister cited the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) State of Broadband 2019’s report of “a second level digital divide,” which found existing gaps even after infrastructural access was addressed.

Minister of Transport and Info-communications Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib bin Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Haji Mohammad Yusof delivers his remarks. PHOTO: BAHYIAH BAKIR

“These gaps referred to other embedded structures such as limitations in skills, literacy, user empowerment and availability of relevant content,” he added.

He said this is where local businesses can play a very important role in complementing the efforts of the government in addressing such gaps.

“By offering more services and products via digital technologies, this can be the motivation to generate new interests and sustain users’ participation in the digital economy,” he added.

To reduce the apparent gaps in digital affordability and accessibility for Brunei, the minister said that the consolidation of the network infrastructure of all existing telecommunication operators in the country under a newly formed company called Unified National Networks Sdn Bhd (UNN) paves the way to provide more competitive and innovative packages of services; spurring the development of Brunei’s ICT sector which is critical to creating an ecosystem to support the digital economy and ultimately the country’s digital transformation.

The minister said, “It is imperative that we prepare our business community and also the government to be ready and well-equipped for the digital economy in ways that can create new opportunities for businesses and our people; regulatory and physical infrastructure to support the transformation of the sector; inclusivity where everyone can participate in the opportunities of the digital economy; and cybersecurity, where trust is vital especially for personal data protection.”

He also noted that coordinated efforts among agencies are in place to set up a national cybersecurity agency in Brunei.

Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib said that the government with key industry players are also in the midst of charting a draft Digital Economy Master Plan as well as a draft a Smart Nation Roadmap for Brunei. “This is where the engagement from all stakeholders on a ‘Whole of Nation’ approach, including the private sector, is very crucial,” he said.