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AITI releases the quality status of fixed line services

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AITI releases the quality status of fixed line services
AITI releases the quality status of fixed line services
In continuation with the last Saturday’s article, ‘AITI re-affirms quality commitment to benefit telecom users’, AITI would like to share more insight on the quality aspects of services, such as landline phone and fixed broadband services, in this week’s feature to raise consumer awareness on the related issues. 
‘At a glance’ availability of landline phones and broadband services
The adjoining map indicates the overall current status of ready availability of landline phones and fixed broadband services in Brunei Darussalam. As shown in the map, in the district of Brunei-Muara, there are 177 kampongs as counted in the Census Report of 2011.  Out of the 177 kampongs, 175 of them have availability of landline phone

services.  Similarly, 169 kampongs have access to fixed broadband services. There are still a few areas such as Pulau Sibungur and Kg Pulau Baru-Baru where terrain features and limited number of residents acts as barriers in order to make the similar provisions. For example, both of these locations are island locations with only 4 and 28 residents respectively.
A similar scenario is evident in case of broadband services in areas such as Kg Pulau Baru‐Baru, Pulau Sibungur, Kg Bolkiah B, Kg Menunggul, Kg Riong, Kg Bebuloh, Kg Imang. Using fixed line infrastructure to cover such areas may require higher costs; hence, alternative options such as wireless connections may be more effective. This scenario is similar for rural or outlying areas in the district Tutong, Kuala Belait and Temburong.
Subscriber Statistics: A new turn in 2013!
As shown in the diagram below, in the earlier years, it has been observed that fixed line connections for phones and broadband services have declined at a gradual pace while mobile broadband subscription enjoyed a healthy growth.  However, by end of 2013, there was a renewed consumer interest in fixed broadband services.  This is probably due to the introduction of fiber-based High Speed Broadband, popularly called as HSBB, which provides consumers with an additional choice over copper-based e-Speed connections.

The introduction of HSBB has three key advantages: higher speed (up to 100 Mbps per connection), able to serve longer distance residential or commercial premises from telephone exchange (up to 25 kilometers) and lower delay i.e. latency to provide an overall better user experience when using the broadband. As reported by TelBru, around 11,000 connections are already working in denser areas such as Bandar, Berakas, Gadong, Kota Batu, and Panaga. More areas are due for coverage this year and the aggregate number of connections may cross 20,000. Thus, the proportion of fixed broadband connections to total broadband subscriptions may also improve in the coming years.
As compared to HSBB, copper-based e-Speed connections are more widely available. But such connections suffer from speed limitation of 5 Mbps per connection which can only be supported up to a distance of 5 kilometers from the nearest local telephone exchange. It offers one more significant advantage that phone lines remain active for voice calls even during power outage at customer’s premises.  

Reliability – International and domestic
In order to provide good consistent services through the fixed line networks, both international and domestic connectivity remains crucial. Given the experience in the past years where submarine cable outages may restrict or slow-down the internet experience, telecom service providers have looked into diversity of routes to minimise the impact of any such outage. For example, the main International connectivity for Brunei Darussalam remains available through South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe (SEA-ME-WE) 3, SEA-ME-WE 4 and Asia-America Gateway (AAG) submarine cable systems whereas Trans Borneo and Malaysia Domestic Submarine (MalDom) cable systems provide the diversity path to cope with the unscheduled outages affecting any of the submarine cable systems. In 2014, we may see the addition of South East Asia-Japan (SJC) submarine cable system as well. As an added option, satellite connectivity is also a viable solution to manage critical tasks.
Broadband speed for end-user
While the current average speed available for a user is around 4.83 Mbps in the download direction and 3.29 Mbps in the upload direction, the actual average speed measured were 2.27 Mbps (for download) and 0.96 Mbps (for upload) in January 2012. And these were around 1.89 Mbps and 0.55 Mbps in August 2011.  The increase in the broadband speed is further supported by proportional rise in the available aggregate capacity of international bandwidth for customers. As in 2013, it was over 11 Gbps and is expected to grow with increasing number of HSBB and other connections.
Though averages provide us an overall trend, a normal user remains interested with the speed supported by the subscribed connection. Hence, there are now two local speed test servers are available for broadband consumers to check the speed at a given time and location. The users may go to the respective links provided by the telcos such as TelBru and DST or they may go to as well.
Here, it is important to note that the speed experienced by users will depends on three key factors such as proper installation of broadband connection, number of active users sharing a particular connection and location of the content – whether domestic or abroad. It is also observed that peak activity during evening hours may also contribute to added delays. Therefore, consumers should choose the most appropriate options as per their own needs. Temporary speed boosts are also available on-demand and charged on hourly basis.
Consumer Servicing
In response to the various concerns that have been expressed by the customers from time to time, AITI has provided certain provisions in the QoS framework to help improve the interface between the concerned telcos and customers. The main focus is on actual delivery of promises made by the telcos when consumers first subscribe to the services.
The provisions involve mandatory adoption of standard timelines for customer services such as all installations must be completed in a given period of 30 days once customer request has been accepted, 70% of the faults booked through the helpline must be restored to normal within the next three working days and all faults should be normally rectified with the next seven working days. The consumers are also advised to insist on receiving the reference number while booking the requests for installation, repair and restoration etc.  This will allow the tracking or monitoring of the resolution progress on objective basis.
Another key provision to protect consumer interest is the prescribed minimum speed that should remain normally available at customer premises. For e-Speed connections, it should support at least 80% of the subscribed speed in the download direction when checked at the customer premises. Similarly HSBB connection is required to support at least 90% of the subscribed value.
In next and subsequent weeks’ articles, AITI shall continue to focus on different aspects of the telecoms services, such as cellular mobile services, and its quality of service.