BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – After eight years providing secure satellite communications to major government and corporate clients, a local firm wants to branch out into the consumer market, targeting adventurers and tech junkies looking to stay connected “anywhere they are in the world”.

For much of the past decade, Network Integrity Assurance Technologies (NiAT) has focused on providing solutions to clients such as the Royal Brunei Armed Forces, Brunei Shell Petroleum and commercial organisations looking to reinforce their network connectivity.

But having already reached a saturation point in that market, NiAT now wants to sell to individual consumers such as mariners, adventure-seekers and people traveling to remote areas not covered by telcos.

“Staying in touch is high on everyone’s agenda but that’s only achievable if you are within the coverage of a cellular or WiFi network,” said Siti Nur Aazzah Pehin Dato Hj Abdul Aziz, NiAT’s chief technical officer.

“With our solutions, you can literally go around the world and never lose a signal because telecommunication satellites cover more than 90 percent of the earth’s surface.”

NiAT’s Chief Technical Officer Siti Nur Aazzah Pehin Dato Hj Abdul Aziz. Photo: Courtesy of NiAT

The CTO said they are now selling products such as satellite phones, portable satellite terminals and golf-ball sized tracking devices at more affordable prices, which has sparked interest from fishermen and companies operating offshore.

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“We have the children of fishermen approach us for information on our tracking devices. This device offers peace of mind [for loved ones],” she said.

“Many would consider [satellite communications] as Plan B. But we want to raise awareness that Plan B is no longer expensive and is now more accessible”.

IsatPhone Pro, a satellite phone from Inmarsat that allows its users to make calls, send text and email from anywhere in the world. Photo: Courtesy of NiAT

NiAT’s satellite phones can also be used to make calls and send texts and emails, which can be handy in disaster or emergency situations. Law enforcement agencies can also put this technology to use, the CTO added.

While the Isat Phone Pro retails for $2,000 — cheaper than the price of an iPhone X — NiAT also rents it for $75 a month, with usage charges billed at $1 a minute.

Siti Nur Aazzah said while NiAT has significantly reduced the usage charges — from $9 to $1 a minute — she acknowledged that convincing consumers won’t be easy.

“It’s a matter of us trying to win the confidence of the people, and at the same time, the government. The problem is that what we do is like insurance — you’re not going to need it until something happens.”