Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore to align with 700 MHz plan

  • Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore agree to align with 700 MHz band
  • GSMA applauds move, calls for acceleration of switch-off from analogue to digital TV

Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore to align with 700 MHz planTHE Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry of Brunei Darussalam (AITI), the Directorate General Sumber Daya dan Perangkat Pos dan Informatika of Indonesia (DG SDPPI), the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), have jointly announced their commitment to align with the Asia Pacific Telecommunity (APT) 700 MHz band plan.
 
The announcement was made at the recent annual Infocomm Media Business Exchange 2013, Asia's largest information communications and media platform.
 
With the increasing number of mobile subscribers and the upsurge of bandwidth-hungry applications, mobile broadband data traffic is expected to experience exponential growth in the near future, the IDA said in a statement. More radio frequency spectrums are required to accommodate this increasing demand.
 
One promising spectrum band, which offers large bandwidth of spectrum and hence improves data rates for mobile broadband, is the 700 MHz band. The propagation characteristic of the 700 MHz band also enables wider coverage and improved indoor service, the IDA said.
 
Leong Keng Thai, IDA's director-general (Telecoms & Post), expressed his appreciation to AITI, DG SDPPI and MCMC for their constructive and cooperative approach that has enabled the four regulatory authorities to reach this common agreement to align with the APT 700 MHz band plan.
 
"This marks an important milestone achieved by the four regulatory authorities. I hope that this collaboration could be further extended to other countries in this region, as this will help improve regional mobile roaming and allow the countries to meet growing demand for mobile broadband," he said.
 
Yahkup Menudin, AITI's chief executive, said the alignment will particularly address the issues of mobile broadband coverage within underserved areas in Brunei Darussalam.
 
He added that the alignment or harmonisation with the APT 700 MHz band would benefit neighbouring countries as well.
 
"It will enable greater interoperability and facilitate international roaming between networks. Cross border co-ordination can be further enhanced as we adopt the same band plan. In addition, there will be economies of scale for the cost of mobile broadband equipment and devices," he said.
 
Indonesia also recognises the demand for greater mobile broadband services flexibility, and has strongly supported the APT 700 MHz band plan since the initiation of band harmonisation in Asia Pacific.
 
Dr Muhammad Budi Setiawan, director general of DG SDPPI, noted that this is also in line with the current regulation of the country’s Master Plan for Digital Television, which allocates the 694-806 MHz for digital dividend in Indonesia.
 
MCMC chairman Mohamed Sharil Tarmizi also echoed Malaysia's support for the harmonisation.
 
"A regionally harmonised 700 MHz band will be advantageous in many aspects, promoting greater cohesion technologically and socially, spurring growth and development in the industry and greater business community. We look forward to a united Asean ‘telecommunity’ according the same commitment towards achieving this goal," he said
 
The APT 700 MHz band plan aims to align and optimise the use of the freed broadcast spectrum after the analogue switch-off, allowing greater flexibility for the deployment of mobile broadband services using technologies such as 4G. The harmonised use of the 700 MHz band for mobile broadband uses will improve regional mobile roaming and provide more competitive mobile broadband services.
 
Following the announcement, Tom Phillips, chief government and regulatory affairs officer at GSM Association (GSMA), offered his congratulations.
 
“The GSMA congratulates Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore on their joint decision to commit to aligning with the APT band plan for the allocation of the 700 MHz band to mobile broadband services,” he said in a statement issued by the GSMA.
 
Phillips called the decision “an important step forward” in meeting the fast-growing demand for mobile data and a positive signal to the wider mobile ecosystem in the Asia Pacific region.
 
Alignment with the harmonised APT band plan, he added, will create important economies of scale, enabling citizens in these countries to enjoy affordable handsets and equipment and will also provide seamless cross-border and international roaming.
 
In addition, the 700 MHz band is ideally suited to provide extended mobile broadband coverage to rural and remote areas where fixed infrastructure is often unavailable and also has ideal characteristics to improve indoor coverage in saturated urban areas.
 
“The GSMA now calls on these four national administrations to start planning and implementing the switch-off from analogue to digital television without delay, to ensure countries can reap the full social and economic benefits associated with the release of the Digital Dividend to mobile,” Phillips added.
 

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