BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Unified National Networks (UNN) has taken over all telecommunications infrastructure in Brunei as of September 1, following the transfer of assets from the country’s three telcos: TelBru, DST and Progresif.

The move, which was first announced last February, is aimed at leveling the playing field for all telco operators in the country, allowing them equal access to network infrastructure.

Speaking to media on Tuesday, UNN’s CEO Dr Steffen Oehler said the telcos would now focus on competitive retail operations.

“TelBru can sell mobile services now, while the other mobile companies can sell broadband services. Each telecommunications company can offer a broad range of products, with more options for customers,” he said on the sidelines of a ceremony to mark TelBru’s assets handover.

“4G will be available for everybody. Progresif and DST will have access to 4G, and so will TelBru, so they are equal in terms of what they can offer.”

Oehler said UNN will be investing heavily to modernise network infrastructure, which includes plans for a 5G-capable network and building more towers in areas where people are undeserved.

“To introduce 5G, we will need to wait for the market to be ready by providing and selling 5G mobile handsets. By 2020, I feel that the market will be filled with 5G handsets with affordable prices for the majority of the public to fully utilise 5G.

“5G will only be launched if it creates a value for the country…. We believe we can start 5G by 2021, but for the system to be installed it needs to be 5G ready. It’s already in the planning, and we will not be rolling back on this,” he said.

In a statement, TelBru said the consolidation of network infrastructure is expected to minismise government spending in the telecommunication and ICT sector.

All of Brunei’s telcos are government-linked companies owned by Darussalam Assets, which is also the parent company of UNN.

UNN is working in partnership with Deutsche Telekom Group to support the transformation of the country’s ICT sector.