Initiatives paving way for 5G adoption

Azlan Othman

Several primary initiatives have been approved in addressing 5G adoption in Brunei Darussalam, namely the formation of the National 5G Taskforce in May 2020, in addition to the pilot projects and the proof of concept for 5G technology, said Minister of Transport and Infocommunications Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib bin Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Haji Mohammad Yusof.

Speaking at the Brunei Darussalam 5G Seminar at the Design and Technology Building in Anggerek Desa yesterday, the minister said, “The taskforce aims to create policy and regulatory recommendations as well as initiatives to generate sustainable demand, interest and awareness of 5G.

“On pilot projects and proof of concept for 5G technology, several strategic locations have been identified to showcase 5G in indoor and outdoor settings. These pilot projects will be implemented in phases starting April.”

Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib shared some international findings on 5G: “Ericsson has reported that 5G subscriptions are forecasted to reach 3.5 billion by 2026 and will account for 54 per cent of total mobile data.

“A report by AT Kearney suggested that for ASEAN, 5G can add up six to nine per cent to consumer revenues and 18 to 22 per cent of enterprise revenues by 2025.

“5G subscriptions in ASEAN are expected to exceed 200 million subscribers in 2025. These findings show a very promising outlook, with fast, intelligent Internet connectivity enabled by 5G.”

Minister of Transport and Infocommunications Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib bin Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Haji Mohammad Yusof delivering his speech. PHOTO: AZLAN OTHMAN

Regarding the seminar’s theme of ‘5G: Enabling Digital Transformation’, the minister said, “Digital transformation has always been a priority for the country, especially in our efforts to transform Brunei Darussalam into a Smart Nation.

“This poses an interesting question: is Brunei Darussalam ready and geared up for digital transformation?

“To give an indication on our readiness, I would like to share some key statistics which have been have been recorded as a result from the ICT industry restructuring which took place on January 24, 2020.

“Fixed broadband subscribers in Brunei Darussalam grew by almost 30 per cent between January and September 2020.

“At the same time, the utilisation of Internet bandwidth has also grown by 63 per cent.

“In terms of affordability, entry level or base price of postpaid mobile services has been reduced by 50 per cent, while the BND25 annual mobile licence fee has been removed.

“For fixed broadband, prices have been reviewed in accordance with the doubled quota and speed.

“Among ASEAN member countries, the improvement in telecommunications infrastructure has taken Brunei Darussalam to the second place in the Telecommunications Infrastructure Index, as recorded in the United Nations (UN) E-Government Survey 2020.

“Brunei Darussalam is also within the top two ASEAN member countries in the Measuring Digital Development: ICT Price Trends 2019 Report published by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

“The report monitors the affordability of ICT services by analysing and comparing price data for mobile-voice services, mobile data and fixed broadband. However, we must not be complacent. There are still more that we can do together for Brunei Darussalam to progress further in digital transformation.”

On the Digital Economy Masterplan 2025, Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib said, “Digital Transformation has been a key enabler in propelling Brunei Darussalam towards the Smart Nation status. As the way forward to support digital economy in Brunei Darussalam, this digital transformation initiatives involves the government, industry and society by leveraging on technologies to achieve impactful outcomes and increased productivity.

“Therefore, each ministry will pursue their respective digital transformation plans, covering not just the ministry alone, but also the whole sector under its purview.

“In this regard, the Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications (MTIC), through the Smart Nation Office, has been in active consultation with various ministries and agencies on their respective digital transformation plans. The Smart Nation Office is also in the process of preparing for a stock take on plans and progress undertaken for respective ministries’ plans.”

On data protection, the minister said, “The MTIC and AITI, in consultation with other relevant agencies, are also actively preparing the legal and regulatory framework on personal data protection, targetted to be ready within the year.

The minister said, “This will complement the MTIC’s current efforts in formulating and reviewing related policies, including the need to address the importance of data sovereignty for Brunei Darussalam. In the meantime, Brunei Darussalam is subscribing to the ASEAN Framework on Digital Data Governance as the guidance in digital data management and cross border data flows.”

The seminar was hosted by Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry of Brunei Darussalam (AITI) in collaboration with the Brunei Darussalam Taskforce.

Also in attendance was Deputy Minister of Energy and Chairman of AITI Dato Seri Paduka Awang Haji Matsatejo bin Sokiaw and Acting Chief Executive of AITI Haji Jailani bin Haji Buntar, as well as permanent secretaries, deputy permanent secretaries, AITI Members of Authority, government officials, and representatives from the academia and private sector.

The objective of the seminar is to raise awareness on 5G economic impact and opportunities with the advent of various 5G emerging applications towards innovation and digital transformation.

Themed ‘5G: Enabling Digital Transformation’, the seminar explored the reality of 5G and how it can pave the way towards digitalisation and innovative solutions.

The seminar also featured interactive panel discussion to share and communicate experiences and knowledge, in encouraging government and industries to adopt digitalisation using 5G technology and beyond.

The event, which can be accessed online, brought together experts and speakers from local and international organisations such as the Smart Nation Office under the MTIC; the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA); Telecommunications Regulators from ASEAN member states, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commissions of Thailand (NBTC), as well as Unified National Networks Sdn Bhd (UNN) and StarHub Mobile Pte Ltd; and from industry players such as Ericsson and Samsung Electronics.

The seminar also showcased a 5G speed test using the proof of concept network located within the Design and Technology Building.