For the first time ever, residents of the sultanate’s most remote settlements in the Belait district will now have access to internet connectivity after the success of a recent proof of concept project by satellite services company Network Integrity Assurance Technologies (NiAT).

“Connectivity forms an integral part of a person’s daily life, something that is always taken for granted but in rural and remote areas, internet connectivity or cellular reception is virtually non-existent,” said NiAT in a statement.

The company’s recent was project was to deliver internet connectivity to the rural and remote populations of the Kg Melilas Long House as well as for the students and teachers of the DMS Dian Sukang Primary School via the Kacific Satellite which was a success.

Image courtesy of NiAT

The service was successfully installed on 10 March for a two-month trial which was used to develop the business case and optimum network configuration in the hopes of equipping underserved populations in Brunei with reliable connectivity.

“Although reportedly 95 per cent of the Bruneian population can be served via mobile coverage, the other 5 per cent, an estimated 22,650 people, do not have access to connectivity,” the company went on to note.

By serving this niche market, NiAT is expressing its commitment to directly contribute to a digital and future-ready society by increasing the rate of Bruneians with access to broadband and improving the quality of life for the rural populace by increasing their ICT usage and skills.

Image courtesy of NiAT

“This proof of concept has been conceptualised not more than a year ago with these goals in mind. We are very proud of the progress that is has made so far and how many lives it has benefitted. Our work is far from finished as there many more communities that ought to have basic internet access,” said NiAT’s CEO, Lim Ming Soon.

When asked about how internet service has impacted their lives, the school students and long house residents reported that the biggest chancge came from the ability to connect with their family and friends, not only in Brunei, but those that are currently studying in the United Kingdom.

Ultimately, NiAT’s project has helped these communities feel more connected than ever especially during the current pandemic

Image courtesy of NiAT

“It’s been hard to keep up with the demand but we are very excited of the interest and opportunities that is now available to us,” said Hjh Noraliah from the Kg Melilas Long House, about the significant influx of customer requests regarding their traditional handcrafted rattan bags, mats and other items on social media.

Meanwhile, for students at the DMS Dian Sukang Primary School the internet access has allowed pupils to access the e-learning materials created by Ministry of Education and other educational sources.

Teachers are pleased that having connectivity has facilitated not only teaching but also school administration and reporting duties. 

“The sight of the children gleefully surfing the web, accessing online learning materials was truly a heartwarming experience,” said the Project Lead, Md Faiz Yaakub. – Wardi Wasil

THE BRUNEIAN | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

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