In line with the national agenda of improving customer experience by delivering a wider range of higher bandwidth product offerings at more affordable rates, the three service providers; Datastream Digital Sdn Bhd, imagine Sdn Bhd, and Progresif Sdn Bhd, over the last week launched refreshed tariffs for retail services to allow consumers to reap the benefits from the use of fixed-line broadband.
The latest tariffs further reduce the pricing of entry level plans and provides higher speed plans, granting more people access to broadband services and allowing subscribers to now enjoy faster connectivity at prices previously charged for lower speed plans.
As key players in the private sector, Darussalam Assets Sdn Bhd and its companies in the telecommunications ecosystem, is striving to help drive the nation’s journey towards transforming into a Smart Nation, in line with the country’s Digital Economy Masterplan 2025 which aims to drive and enhance Brunei Darussalam’s socio-economic growth through digital transformation.
Offering increased speed and data at affordable prices, to support the reformed broadband tariffs and upgraded speed, is one of many ongoing efforts from Unified National Networks (UNN) to fully modernise Brunei’s telecommunications infrastructure.
UNN has been and will continue to work closely with the service providers (SalesCo partners) to understand market and customer needs in order to address the variety of subscribers’ needs. New offerings have been achieved that have been crafted from lessons learnt and feedback from the market in the past 12 months.
It is through such continuous approaches and constant processes to support one another in the telecommunications ecosystem that enables internet use to be elevated to becoming the new standard way of work and life; one that is affordable for everyone rather than a luxury enjoyed by a select few.
The Radio Access Network (RAN) capacity expansion project involving hardware and software changes on mobile transmission infrastructure, and the fibre network expansion project, both of which were started by UNN in 2020, continue to bring significantly higher speed for mobile services, additional connection points and provide an improved fixed network service across the country where people are living, especially in remote and geographically or topically challenged areas.
From January to December 2020, UNN has established over 25,000 new customer connections. This project will expand between 2021 and 2024 with another 20,000 homes expected to be connected. Fixed broadband household penetration rate has increased from 50 per cent to 70 per cent since January 2020 and is targetted to reach 80 per cent by March 2022.
To further improve customer experience, UNN is also continuously working towards replacing all existing copper network to fibre, which will allow subscribers to enjoy higher service standards. In addition to this, it is not only imperative for UNN to deliver to areas where infrastructure is already available today but there are also areas in the country where infrastructure is currently unavailable and the residents are not able to enjoy the same services that are available in more densely populated areas of the country.
Although these areas are very sparsely populated, UNN has already planned to deploy mobile and fibre infrastructure in these areas so our retail service providers will be able to offer the full variety of services after rollout is completed. These initiatives will be communicated publicly upon completion to ensure all interested parties are well informed on service availability.
The fibre rollout is a top priority of UNN, however, efforts in trying to realise this objective have been hindered by certain challenges, primarily the occurrence of cable thefts and vandalism. These incidences not only slow down the modernisation of the nation’s broadband network, but they also disrupt the provision of services to subscribers.
In the past nine months around 140 cases of copper thefts have been recorded with co-located fibre cables often being vandalised or entirely severed. Significant costs, both monetary and time, have been invested in repairing and restoring the national infrastructure and service. In severe cases, up to 100,000 subscribers are affected by these occurrences.
UNN constantly strives to ensure the disruptions caused by these incidences are minimised as much as possible and is currently cooperating with the relevant government agencies including the Royal Brunei Police Force to reduce the occurrence of cable thefts and vandalism.
All in all, the projects that UNN undertakes are purposefully planned to develop the telecommunications infrastructure around the country to bring the nation’s telecommunications industry closer to those of other countries within the region.
The effort and investments put into these projects will take time to build and UNN is cooperating with all stakeholders to speed up all necessary processes. This will provide the base to meet the demands and requirements expected.
As it continues to pave the way forward to enable more speed, more data and more connections across the country, UNN will be developing solutions to the challenges faced to ensure that it aligns to the vision and mission set forth for Brunei Vision 2035.