Improving rural connectivity in Southeast Asia

Improving rural connectivity in Southeast Asia

August 23, 2017

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 on ASEAN digital migration as jumping off point. By examining a case study of the DSO process in ASEAN countries such as Viet Nam. The report is available for download below. It includes a set of practical policy recommendations for ASEAN. The goal with these is to speed up the digital migration process and improve rural connectivity in the region.

Practical recommendations

For example, consultation with stakeholders is an important tool that can be used to address multiple challenges. They include the development of achievable digital migration plans and increased stakeholder buy-in, with such feedback improving 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.

Download the full report here and the summary here


  1. GSMA on the “Digital Migration in ASEAN case study and recommendations” can be downloaded here
  2. ARFM on the “Implementation of digital migration & digital dividend” in Viet Nam can be downloaded here
  3. MCIT on “Indonesia’s spectrum roadmap for broadband development” can be downloaded 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