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Telecoms and IT ministers from Asean nations have agreed on further co-operation to develop the region’s digital economy.
The ministers approved a five-year IT roadmap to 2020 in November during the 15th Asean Telecommunications and Information Technology Ministers Meeting (Asean TELMIN 2015) in Vietnam.
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The Asean ICT Masterplan 2020 (AIM2020), as the plan is known, will provide guidelines to drive the digital economy in Asean countries over the next five years. It includes work between the Asean countries, as well as with China, Japan, South Korea, India and the US.
AIM2020 will focus on eight areas: economic development and transformation; improving ICT connectivity; improving the human role through ICT; innovation; ICT infrastructure and human capital development; ICT in the single market; new media and content; and information security and assurance.
The ministers also approved funding for projects during the 2016 work cycle. These projects aim to encourage more creativity in ICT and to improve connectivity and services in the region, including an international mobile roaming framework.
The ministers also noted that Asean countries had put in a lot of effort to complete the earlier masterplan, AIM2015, with 87 projects undertaken.
These initiatives have led to substantial improvements in ICT development and connectivity in the region, where the cost of accessing fixed broadband as a percentage of gross national income (GNI) per capita has fallen from 37.16% in 2010 to 6.21% in 2013.
Benefits can be reaped when Asean countries work together, said Cris Tran, consulting associate, digital transformation at Frost & Sullivan, Asia Pacific.
Read more about IT in the Asean region
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“There are many ICT areas where it is critical for Asean countries to work together, such as ICT policies and infrastructure development, ICT ecosystem within Asean, cyber crime, network convergence and interconnection,” said Tran.
Historically, Asean nations have co-operated and committed to building an investment environment to attract businesses, and created the Asean Comprehensive Investment Agreement (ACIA).
Co-operation among Asean countries can also drive greater internet penetration in the region, which mainly comprises developing countries with low internet penetration, said Alfie Amir, senior research manager at IDC.
“To drive broadband penetration in the region, one of the key areas is the harmonisation of APT 700MHz and Digital Dividend spectrum for 4G LTE,” he said. “LTE at these bands not only provides high-speed broadband, but also economical solutions for high-speed broadband in rural areas due to its physical advantage.”