Four Asean countries agreed on using TV spectrum for 4G services

Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia have agreed to set aside TV broadcasting airwaves for mobile broadband use.

The alignment of TV spectrum for mobile broadband use will allow for roaming when travelling from one country to another.

The announcement was made by Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim at the opening of the week-long Infocomm Media Business Exchange 2013 (imbX) event. imbX features two shows: CommunicAsia, which focuses on telecommunication technologies, and BroadcastAsia, which focuses on media and broadcasting technologies.

TV spectrum is expected to be freed up completely by 2020 when analogue TV broadcasts are switched off.

That will be when the airwaves will be refarmed for fourth-generation (4G) mobile services - four times faster and can pack up to five times more data into any given amount of airwaves than 3G.

The move to 4G is much needed in the wake of the expanding use of Internet-connected smartphones and tablets, which is choking the older 3G networks.

The Infocomm Development Authority will also reclaim and recycle several blocks of spectrum currently used for 2G purposes - when rights for their use expire in 2015 and 2017 - for 4G services. An auction for these 2G airwaves are expected as early as this month (June).