Rural areas of Brunei Darussalam, which have long faced problems with information and communications technology (ICT) services, are set to benefit from a move to align the Sultanate’s bandwidth with that of its regional neighbours.
The decision to replace mobile frequency bands comes as the Sultanate prepares to hand out 4G long-term evolution (LTE) licences. However, despite the wave of activity taking place across the telecoms sector, there are concerns that the joint roaming agreement could fail to produce results for the country, unless tariffs are revised downwards to levels nearer those of its regional peers.
Brunei Darussalam, together with Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, sealed an agreement on June 19 to align itself with the Asia Pacific Telecommunity’s 700 MHz band plan. The deal will facilitate international roaming among networks, while also making it easier for providers to meet rising demand for mobile broadband.
The new management of Telekom Brunei Bhd (TelBru) is working wonders with connectivity and gearing up to provide even better service for its valued customers, Borneo Bulletin reported. In an interview with the Weekend Bulletin, David Kay, the Chief Executive Officer of TelBru, said his team was currently combing the ICT world for new technology to be introduced to the Bruneian population as a means of fulfilling its, promise that it made not too long ago in giving the people faster, better Internet connection. With an anticipated growth of customers in the coming years and as demand for Internet continues to grow, Mr Kay shared that TelBru is eyeing to connect 45,000 people to Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) services within the next three years.
The Authority for Info-communications Technology and Industry of Brunei Darussalam (AITI), the industry regulator, echoed the association’s comments, telling local media that the plan would enable the Sultanate to offer wider coverage and better in-building penetration.
However, a survey conducted this year suggested that the Sultanate’s users were probably paying too much for data services. The 2013 edition of the Global Information Technology Report, released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in April, found that Brunei Darussalam had the highest tariffs for telecommunications services in ASEAN, while trailing some of its regional neighbours when it came to internet connection speed.
Aligning the bandwidth and introducing 4G coverage are likely be beneficial for small businesses in rural areas long term. In the meantime, however, the country may need to consider introducing other measures aimed at helping Bruneian ventures remain competitive when connected.