Annual fee waived for mobile phone subscribers

Izah Azahari

With the consent of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, the Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications (MTIC) announced the BND25 annual licence fee waiver for the payment of Cellular Mobile Subscriber Licence (CMSL) to mobile cellular service users in Brunei Darussalam which took effect from January 24.

This was revealed by Minister of Transport and Infocommunications Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib bin Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Yusof during a press conference yesterday in sharing the latest developments of the country’s infocommunication sector, adding that it is not directly related to the issue of dealing with the COVID-19 situation.

The minister said the annual licence fee waiver is a step taken jointly by the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE), MTIC and the Authority for Info-Communications Technology Industry of Brunei Darussalam (AITI) in line with the restructuring of the telecommunications industry in the Sultanate implemented on January 24.

“This initiative is an attempt at policy reform towards making Brunei Darussalam a Smart Nation,” Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib said. “This step is to make telecommunications services more accessible and affordable for the public and people of all walks of life, and to increase the community’s readiness to adopt new digital technologies and services.”

In this regard, the minister said users whose annual mobile phone licences are issued on and after January 24 and have paid for the licence will receive a refund, and the repayment will involve both post-paid and prepaid customers, where the reimbursement process will begin as soon as the service provider completes its administrative business.

Meanwhile, touching on the affected Internet services across the country following the malfunction on international telecommunications networks owned by the Unified National Networks (UNN) through the SEA-ME-WE3 (SMW3) underwater cable system since February 23, disruption of the Asia-America Gateway (AAG) submarine cable system on April 2, and further disruption to the Southeast Asia Japan Cable System (SJC) submarine cable system on April 17, the minister explained that this disruption is further compounded by the problems with the Trans-Borneo link cable system, which is often used by UNN to diversify its procurement capacity.

The minister explained that apart from Brunei Darussalam, this situation is also affecting Internet services in regional countries including Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, the Philippines and the Indian sub-continent.

“To address the issue of increasing Internet usage, especially with more people working from home and online learning, and the impact of underwater cable damage, the MTIC has learned that UNN implemented traffic flow management to reduce the impact of disruptions and increase additional capacity on a functioning cable system,” he added.

The minister said UNN partnered with a submarine cable provider to restore the existing telecommunications network, where recovery works are expected to be completed in the near future.

“The MTIC through AITI will continue to monitor this situation to ensure that Internet services to consumers in the country will not suffer from disruption and will keep them updated from time to time,” he said.

The minister on behalf of telecommunications service providers in the country, MTIC and AITI advised the public to keep up to date with the telecommunications companies.

For information on CMSL’s waiver and reimbursement process, the public can visit the AITI website at www.aiti.gov.bn or contact their service providers via their customer service line and the websites of their companies – Datastream Digital Sdn Bhd via 151 or www.dst.com.bn, imagine Sdn Bhd via 111 or www.imagine.com.bn, or Progresif Sdn Bhd via 177 or www.progresif.com.