ICT industry transformation reaches major milestone

A year ago, the Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah and the Minister of Transport and Infocommunications Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib bin Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Yusof, as Co-Chairmen of the Brunei Digital Economy Council, announced the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Transformation initiative, paving the way for Brunei’s digital economy.

In that time, Unified National Networks Sdn Bhd (UNN), a wholly owned subsidiary of Darussalam Assets Sdn Bhd, was established to consolidate and upgrade the network infrastructure of the three telecommunication operators: Datastream Technology Sdn Bhd (DST), Progresif Cellular Sdn Bhd (Progresif) and Telekom Brunei Berhad (TelBru).

DST, Progresif and TelBru have since launched their respective retail service providers; Datastream Digital Sdn Bhd (Datastream Digital), Progresif Sdn Bhd (Progresif) and imagine Sdn Bhd (imagine). All retail service providers will focus solely on retail operations with equal access to the network infrastructure provided by UNN.

While key service launch dates will vary, consumers can expect 4G, number portability, new product bundles and improvements in the wider availability and quality of services at affordable prices. For the wider economy, it is anticipated that the improvements made to the network infrastructure will have a ripple effect across industries, catalysing growth and innovation across all areas, and creating building blocks that help to sustain and grow local businesses.

The Minister of Transport and Infocommunications was quoted, “The ICT sector is at the forefront of our national effort to digitally transform our economy and to enhance the way we do business. From borderless transactions to more personalised services, digital technology has the potential to enrich our lives and unlock new opportunities to propel our economy. The Go Live of retail service providers is a major milestone in our strategy to enhance competition in the sector with the aim of stimulating innovation and choice for consumers and businesses. I am also pleased to announce the launch of the number portability pilot, a service in high demand by consumers. The service pilot will begin on 24 January 2020 with limited capacity, and full implementation is expected over the coming months.”

The telecommunication operators, owned and managed by Darussalam Assets, will transition to focus on human capital and business development as Development Companies. The companies will explore and develop new business opportunities while partnering with local and international enterprises to understand current and future manpower needs. Through these initiatives, the companies will upskill and develop future-ready capabilities amongst employees. Darussalam Assets maintains its commitment that there will be no forced termination of Bruneians, demonstrating its promise that while Brunei undergoes this necessary transformation, employees are taken care of.

The Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II expressed his optimism at the Go Live of the retail service providers and upcoming launch of the Development Companies: “The Go Live is a significant marker of our progress towards becoming a smart nation. The transformation, and these latest developments specifically, will help to spur economic growth in other industries as well as confidence in the MSME segment as the changes offer local businesses better availability and affordability of services. Through the Development Companies, we will continue to work with our partners to provide Bruneians with gainful employment and benefit from Brunei’s growing digital economy. We are on the path to a stronger, more competitive position in the region.”