BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Network provider Unified National Networks (UNN) has reported significant delays in Fibre to the Home (FTTH) installations, with limited manpower hampering its ability to keep up with demand for home broadband.

With non-essential workers ordered to work from home, the number of new FTTH service requests has doubled since August 7, driven largely by Brunei’s COVID lockdown.

There are currently 1,000 outstanding service requests, the second minister of finance and economy said on Monday, adding that UNN must also install broadband at new quarantine centres around the country.

In the past three weeks, UNN has seen an average of 60 to 70 requests per day for FTTH installation, compared to the previous daily average of 40-45 requests, said YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah.

Overall broadband usage has increased three-fold since the onset of the pandemic in early 2020.

In a joint statement issued with Brunei’s telcos last Saturday, UNN said the current surge of COVID cases — fueled by the Delta variant —  has proved challenging for the telecommunications industry.

In order to safeguard the health of both employees and customers, the network provider has reduced manpower and introduced strict safety protocols for field staff.

UNN’s capacity took a further hit when 100 employees and contractors were issued quarantine orders due to close contact with COVID-19 cases.

“The industry is carefully allocating its resources, including employees and equipment to be able to serve the special needs of MoH and other agencies involved in COVID mitigation, and at the same time serving the requests from Bruneian households and businesses,” UNN said.

“The industry is focused to shorten the gap and to provide new services as quickly as possible.”

If customers have been issued quarantine orders or are self-isolating at home, they will need to reschedule their FTTH installation to another date. Workers will not be allowed to enter the homes of people with red, purple or blue BruHealth codes.

Customers who have requested new broadband services have been asked to liaise with their respective service provider for updates.