Wednesday August 23, 2017

Improving rural connectivity in Southeast Asia

Person looking at mobile phone smiling, light is reflecting on face in dark room

Closing the digital divide is a high priority for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It is key to the association’s plan to provide affordable rural connectivity.

Mobile broadband has grown significantly in the past few years. In part, due to it offering cost-effective solution to extending affordable broadband to everyone. Success is dependent on the presence of good spectrum planning and supporting policies. That is especially true for the release of the digital dividend.

To highlight best practices, the GSMA and ASEAN have published a report and organised a workshop. The workshop used findings from the report on policy recommendations for digital migration as a starting point. The report looks at the process in Viet Nam.  The goal with the recommendations is to speed up the migration. As a result, improve rural connectivity in the region.

Practical recommendations

For example, consultation with stakeholders is an important tool. It can address multiple challenges. They include the development of digital migration plans and increased stakeholder buy-in. This improves the chances of success for the sector.

Also, it is important to balance government policy and overarching goals with market situations. The release of digital dividend spectrum has the potential to significantly impact rural connectivity. As such, policymakers should carefully consider expected spectrum demand, the likely impacts of releasing new spectrum, and appropriate rules for spectrum pricing.

At the workshop, ASEAN regulators and industry representatives shared their experiences on implementing the digital migration in the region. Two panels discussed challenges when migrating incumbents in 700 MHz bands. They also covered innovations and opportunities in a converged mobile and content world.


  1. GSMA on the “Digital Migration in ASEAN case study and recommendations” is available here
  2. ARFM on the “Implementation of digital migration & digital dividend” in Viet Nam is available here
  3. MCIT on “Indonesia’s spectrum roadmap for broadband development” is available here
  4. Office of the NBTC on “Spectrum for Television Broadcasting and IMT 700 MHz in Thailand” can be downloaded here
  5. Axiata on “Opportunities in a Converged World” can be downloaded here


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