BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications has terminated the $25 annual license fee for mobile subscribers beginning January 24, 2020, its minister announced on Monday.

Prepaid and post-paid mobile subscribers who have paid their annual license fee on or after January 24 will be refunded through their service provider.

Speaking at the daily COVID-19 press briefing, YB Dato Seri Setia Abd Mutalib Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Yusof said the move is in line with the restructuring of the country’s telecommunications industry and part of efforts to build a “Smart Nation”.

He added that it would make mobile services more accessible and affordable for the public and increase the community’s readiness to adopt new digital technologies and services.

While the move is not directly related to the coronavirus outbreak, the minister acknowledged the surge in internet usage as people stay at home and observe social distancing. Thousands of students are also taking lessons online since classroom learning was suspended due to COVID-19.

Brunei has seen major network congestion and service disruption in the past few weeks, which has been compounded by outages in international undersea cables.

YB Dato Abdul Mutalib said the network service provider, Unified National Networks, has partnered with a submarine cable provider to restore internet services.

The undersea cable outages have also affected internet services in other countries in the region including Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Philippines and the Indian sub-continent.