UNN, stakeholders look into 5G introduction

Lyna Mohamad & Rokiah Mahmud

Unified National Networks Sdn Bhd (UNN) is working with stakeholders such as the Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications (MTIC) and Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry Brunei Darussalam (AITI) to evaluate the introduction of a
5G network.

UNN CEO Dr Steffen Oehler said the demand for 5G is still low as few people own 5G compatible mobile phones which tend to be higher cost models.

The introduction of 5G is strategically important for the country, said Dr Oehler.

There are plans to introduce 5G but it would not be feasible to allocate too many resources to meet the demand of the few. Instead, the focus now is on customers using 3G and 4G networks. However, current implementation on 4G+ and LTE is going towards the preparation for a 5G network.

He added that a substantial amount of additional capacity was added with 100MHz band @3,500MHz. UNN is applying with AITI for additional spectrum in the lower band as lower frequency allows better penetration in buildings and can reach a radius of over four kilometres.

UNN is also looking into providing and improving fixed network services for difficult areas such as water villages. Dr Oehler said UNN is evaluating fibre infrastructure for houses in Kampong Ayer.

Unified National Networks Sdn Bhd CEO Dr Steffen Oehler speaks with media personnel. PHOTO: BAHYIAH BAKIR

From January to July 2020, 16,358 customer connections were completed. They are 12,272 connections in the Brunei-Muara District, 2,404 in Belait District, 1,503 in Tutong District and 179 in the Temburong District.

Fibre to the Home (FTTH) network was expanded to include an additional 2,744 connection points – 946 in Tutong District and 1,798 from other districts.

“Currently, we believe we are passing around 80,000 to 85,000 homes on fibre,” said Dr Oehler. UNN projected that between 2022 to 2024, another 20,000 homes will be added as more houses are being built including housing projects.

Temburong witnessed several firsts in Brunei, including the first use of blown fibre and the technology combining 3G and 4G in one antenna.

UNN is also focussing its spotlight on cybersecurity. “We are keen to protect data and our customers. That is why we are building a Cyber Defence Centre,” said Dr Oehler.

The Cyber Defence Centre is one of the initiatives in realising the digitisation of Brunei. It will protect all digital services, data interfaces, communication and production systems of UNN from domestic and foreign threats.

UNN will also implement training programmes to help experts detect, prevent and respond to cyber-attacks to safeguard the entire network.