The Telephone House in Sumbiling which is now owned by UNN. Image: Waqiuddin Rajak

Unified National Networks (UNN) has taken over the responsibilities of operating Brunei’s entire telecommunication networks, after acquiring the necessary infrastructure assets from all three existing telecommunication firms starting September 1.

All maintenance, installation and facilitation of network amenities nationwide will now be solely handled by UNN, allowing Telekom Brunei Berhad (TelBru), DST and Progresif to focus more on improving its retail services and operations.

The three telcos however will still be assisting UNN to refine its procedures, as to avoid any disruptions to existing services. Besides hiring technical operatives from the three telcos, UNN is also accepting secondees from the three companies to ensure its operations will remain smooth.

UNN CEO Dr Steffen Oehler in an interview said that acquiring all of the network infrastructure assets was more than just a financial and legal move as it also placed a heavy burden on his company to make it ‘right’ for the Bruneians.

One of the main things that UNN wants to address by consolidating network assets was to ‘centralise’ investments – which means telcos can just subscribe to a source instead of building different facilities to accommodate the ever-changing market.

Previously, each telco may have to do separate spending on similar installations just to get the same network capabilities.

UNN’s CEO Dr Steffen Oehler delivering his speech at the UNN-TelBru asset handover event. Image: Waqiuddin Rajak

Furthermore, network services will also be resilient and more immune to service disruptions as UNN now holds network capabilities that are three times stronger than what Brunei had before, Oehler explained.

With the consolidation, Oehler also shared that telcos may be able to provide faster but less expensive internet, as Brunei is highly capable of transporting Terabytes of data overseas.

With the proprietorship of the network infrastructure now cemented under UNN, the firm now looks to ‘modernise’ Brunei’s network capabilities with plans to introduce 5G and revamp the country’s radio networks already underway.

“For the radio, what we needed will be more than just network coverage; we also need the capabilities to renew all of the existing radio infrastructure and the systems which we will put into all of the towers, which are all 5G-ready,” he said.

“We are looking forward to invest heavily into the next three years, and to refurbish all of the existing networks. We will build more towers in areas where people are underserved – it is our commitment to the country,”

“We have a lot of work in front of us; our main objective is to make it visible and tangible in terms of good quality services in affordable pricing,” Oehler added.

The CEO was speaking on the sidelines of an asset handover ceremony between his firm and TelBru held at the Sumbiling Telephone house – a 40-year-old building that houses key equipment to manage internet and telephony connectivity which now belonged to UNN.

Additionally, UNN has also acquired TelBru’s array of cars, which will be used to maintain and install network amenities nationwide with Oehler adding that his firm will still need to explain to clients about the change.

The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

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