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New Market Research Report: Brunei Darussalam - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband

Fast Market Research recommends "Brunei Darussalam - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband" from BuddeComm, now available


Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/16/2014 -- As mobile market growth slowed in Brunei B-Mobile's future remained the big question This report looks at the telecommunications market in Brunei Darussalam. A small wealthy nation in South East Asia Brunei made early moves to ensure that it was delivering up to date telecommunications services to its population. The target of 100% digitalisation was achieved back in 1995. Telecommunications infrastructure and services throughout Brunei are of a generally high standard and the country ranks well in Asia in terms of both telecom service penetration and infrastructure facilities. Brunei's mobile penetration which stood at an already healthy 32% by 2001 has continued to expand and coming into 2014 it had reached a penetration of 115%. Growth in total mobile subscribers had slowed in recent years as customers moved to take up mobile broadband offerings.

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By contrast to the strong mobile market the fixed-line segment has been completely overwhelmed by emergence of a strong mobile sector. Earlier on before mobile services gained the ascendancy the government set a national goal of a 40% fixed-line penetration rate by 2001 it came as no surprise that Jabatan Telekom Brunei (JTB) the incumbent telecom operator fell well short of this target as the industry focus swung strongly towards mobile services. The country actually reached just over 26% fixed-line penetration by 2001 fixed-line services have been in a steady decline ever since (falling to 14% by end-2013).

It is not surprising that the citizens of Brunei are strong consumers of telecom services given the level of encouragement coming from the government and the high level of GDP per capita. Despite the overall positive situation if the country is to continue to maintain the pace required to be globally competitive it must further restructure and generally liberalise the local telecom industry. Brunei's telecom regulator the Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry (AITI) was established in 2003. Although seen as a positive step the creation of a new regulator has not really accelerated telecom reform to any extent.

The local market has continued to be dominated first by JTB and then by Telekom Brunei (TelBru) JTB's corporatised successor although there are plans to privatise the incumbent telco it remains for the time being under the wing of the government. It was a significant step in 2006 when the Department of Economic Planning and Development announced the corporatisation of JTB. However much more remains to be done in the area of sector reform.

By early 2013 the country's telecom regulator the AITI was expressing concern about the performance of B-Mobile. The smaller of the two mobile operators B-Mobile had managed to maintain a subscriber base of close to 20% of the country's total mobile market up until 2012. However it had experienced serious network performance problems and was also rumoured to be struggling financially. In a surprise move parent Telekom Brunei submitted a petition to Brunei's Supreme Court in 2013 seeking to wind up its subsidiary B-Mobile. The mobile operator was continuing to function into 2014 but there remained major issues to be addressed. A meeting of creditors in early 2014 signalled a new phase in developments.

While Brunei's economy is not heavily exposed to the global capital markets the 2008/2009 global financial crisis did impact on Brunei. Although the country's banks were also well placed to manage any period of economic difficulty the country was definitely not isolated from what was happening globally. The fall in oil prices triggered by the global economic crisis and subsequent decline in energy production saw Brunei's GDP contract by almost 2% in 2008 and again in 2009. The economy recovered sufficiently for GDP growth to be positive again by 2010 returning an annual growth rate of nearly 3%. Growth has since been due in part to more favourable external conditions and the large fiscal and current account surpluses built up in recent years. The IMF was forecasting annual growth of 6%-7% for Brunei in 2014/2015.

Market highlights:

- Brunei's mobile market reached a penetration of 115% by early 2014;
- After a strong growth period the expansion of mobile market had slowed by 2013;
- More than 90% of Brunei's internet subscribers have high-speed broadband access with around half of these on a mobile broadband platform;
- Overall growth in broadband access having suffered a setback in 2012 had picked up strongly in 2013 and into 2014;
- The government issued a National Broadband Blueprint with a primary objective being to increase the ICT industry's contribution to GDP to 6% by 2015;
- Fixed-line penetration in Brunei having reached a healthy 26% by 2001 has been in decline slipping to around 20% by 2012 and down to 14% coming into 2014;

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