Evolution of telecommunications | Borneo Online Newsletter
Contributed by Corporate Communication & Public Relations, UNN
Since mobile communication was first introduced in Brunei Darussalam by Jabatan Telekom Brunei (JTB) in 1989 using the Advanced Mobile Phone System (AMPS), it has radically changed the way we communicate as opposed to the alternative landline phone.
Cell phones, as its namesake suggests, allowed users to communicate on the go and its popularity has since dominated the world.
The evolution of mobile technology in Brunei Darussalam has improved over the years with the introduction of the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) in 1995 by Datastream Technology Sdn Bhd (DST).
GSM was a standard developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) to define protocols for second-generation (2G) digital cellular networks then used by mobile devices.
In 2005, 3G services were introduced with features such as video calling and mobile internet, before moving to a better and faster experience for video streaming and smart phone applications through the introduction of technology 4G in 2014.
On September 1, 2019, the network infrastructure of Brunei’s four telecom providers – Telekom Brunei Berhad (TelBru), DST and Progresif Cellular Sdn Bhd (Progresif), as well as Brunei International Gateway Sdn Bhd (BIG), were consolidated under one single entity – the Unified National Networks Sdn Bhd (UNN).
Each successive generation of mobile communications services sees higher speeds and improved user experience, so it’s a natural progression for UNN to prepare the nation for the next technological leap.
2G services have been phased out with a complete shutdown on June 1, 2021, with 2G spectrum being reused for the provision of more advanced mobile services to enable UNN to provide higher standards of service quality and reliability.
The ongoing Radio Access Network (RAN) and Fiber Network expansion project launched by UNN in 2020 has continuously expanded the reach of the national network to bring significantly higher speed for mobile services, hotspots additional connections and provide improved fixed network service across the country where people are living, especially in remote and geographically or thematically challenging areas of the Sultanate.
UNN has since made a series of upgrades to its broadband network to cope with the increased traffic and data volume that occurred during the first, second and third waves of the pandemic. By 2020, UNN had established over 25,000 customer connections representing a penetration rate of 50% of households using fixed broadband services and by the start of the 2022 quarter, the country will have reached a penetration rate of 80% – a remarkable feat in a short time.
UNN’s ongoing transformation project aims to further upgrade the existing telecom infrastructure in the country to cater to increasingly important connectivity, bandwidth and quality for the country in preparation for 5G technology. , which is scheduled for deployment this year.
While 4G focuses on delivering much faster mobile broadband services than 3G, 5G technology is designed to be a unified, higher-performance platform that not only enhances mobile broadband experiences, but also supports support new services such as critical communications and massive IoT (Internet of Things).
5G technology should provide higher data speeds with less lag than 4G technology. Some 5G services will deliver coverage areas with up to a hundred times faster data rates with near instantaneous response time. For example, downloading a feature film with 4G can take almost six minutes. With 5G, the same movie can be downloaded in just 15 seconds.
Technically speaking, current 4G speeds are around 12 to 36 megabytes per second (Mbps), while 5G services should support speeds of up to 300 Mbps or more.
And as consortium members of three submarine cable systems, including Southeast Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 3 (SEA-ME-WE3), Asia-America Gateway (AAG), South -East Asia-Japan Cable (SJC), UNN continues to ensure that members of the public will always have access to content from around the world.
In short, the efforts UNN has made to modernize the existing infrastructure will support the benefits of 5G technology which, in turn, will provide consumers and businesses with faster data transfer speeds and improved network reliability. And, with service providers DST, Progresif and imagine Sdn Bhd (imagine) supporting UNN 5G initiatives, consumers can also enjoy reformed tariffs and broadband service packages.
Telecommunications services are the backbone of the digital economy and are an integral part of our work and our daily lives. Whether it’s tomorrow, this year, or next year, when UNN achieves its goals, consumers across the country will likely benefit from an improved customer experience – faster speed, lower latency, improved ability to devices and an attractive reform of tariffs and service packages.
UNN is Brunei Darussalam’s integrated national telecommunications network operator, providing the full range of fixed and mobile services domestically and using international assets to provide connectivity services across Asia.