Bandar Seri Begawan - The government is committed to promoting the development of ICT in Brunei, with His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam this year consenting to the allocation of $230 million for the Ministry of Communications.
This allocation is provided to implement a nationwide Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) broadband project under the 10th National Development Plan.
"While the government is playing its part to ensure that people and businesses have access to high quality broadband services at affordable prices by 2017, we do recognise that user adoption is almost as big a challenge as rolling out the FTTH infrastructure.
"With a high-speed infrastructure, it is crucial to have compelling applications and user-generated content so as to entice users to take advantage of the fibre bandwagon and use ICT in their work and leisure," said AITI CEO Hj Yahkup Hj Menudin.
The CEO spoke as the guest of honour at the opening ceremony of the GDG DevFest 2012 Brunei Darussalam, organised by GDG Brunei Darussalam in collaboration with Google and DST.
Hj Yahkup also commended the excellent effort by the GDG Brunei Chapter and DST Communication in hosting this inaugural DevFest 2012, adding that the event signifies another one of the many growing initiatives by the community and industry players towards the development of the local ICT sector.
He further noted that towards realising the national vision 'Wawasan Brunei 2035' to produce educated, highly skilled and accomplished citizens, the main effort is to prepare our youths, especially students, to be more competitive and knowledgeable.
"We also aspire to build a dynamic and sustainable economy by expanding and diversifying the economic growth outside the oil and gas industry through the development of highly competitive ICT and knowledge-based industries."
He believes the event is a positive step and would help to encourage, stimulate and nurture ideas, innovations and skills. He also expressed hopes that it will spur more people to look towards ICT as a career and be part of the ICT sector, contributing toward the GDP growth of Brunei Darussalam.
The event hopes not only to provide an excellent opportunity for participants to learn more about Google technologies and developer products like Android, Apps Engine, HTML5 and APIs, but also to generate interest among local enthusiasts and potential developers to produce more local contents for the country
The wireless arena, the CEO said, has seen rapid growth of the mobile market over the last couple of years with the mobile user penetration rate in Brunei reaching 120% early this year.
"Ever since 3G networks have been rolled out by all our mobile operators in 2005, we see mobile phones becoming a lifestyle necessity with consumers' increasing usage of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, hence leading to an unprecedented surge in mobile data usage today"
He added that the amount of mobile data traffic generated would drive the demand for spectrum and new innovations in wireless technologies to provide more capacity and higher quality service.
While some operators in the neighbouring countries have already begun to deploy 4G or Long Term Evolution (LTE) technologies to boost the speed and capacity of their mobile networks, at AITI, they are facilitating the rollout of 4G.
This is the next generation of ultra high-speed mobile network in Brunei that will offer higher data rates and lower latency to the users.
"Our mobile operators have been conducting trials for the last six months or more and we are working on allocation of the relevant spectrum for 4G which will be made available as early as next year."
He also expressed hope to see more initiatives being put in place to meet the increasing needs of mobile communications and to grow the innovations in the local mobile applications market.
"I am pleased to note that there have been good collaborative efforts in places between the government, academia and the industry players to drive and foster the creation of innovations in ICT and mobile applications in Brunei," he said.
The Future Fund, a joint collaboration between AITI, BEDB and DST for example, is aimed to drive innovation and creativity by providing promising ICT start-ups with seed capital of up to $150,000.
iCentre's incubation facilities, the AITI and BEDB grant schemes, and the expanding number of ICT-related courses including content developments in the academic curriculum, are also some of the other initiatives, he added.
The strong collaboration between GDG Brunei, DST Communications and all parties involved behind yesterday's initiative shows another great example of the public and private industry partnership towards creating innovation opportunities for Brunei.--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin