ASEAN countries are a step closer to turning off analogue television by 2020 to free up the bandwidth for 4G mobile services.
Telecommunications ministers of the 10 member states agreed to intensify cooperation for the plan at the two-day ASEAN Telecommunication and Information Technology Ministers Meeting 2013, which ended on Friday.
Four countries - Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei - are committed to having the bandwidth freed by 2020, while the others will be on board by then.
Local telcos said it would mean greater convenience for ASEAN to have the same 700MHz bandwidth across the board. This would allow 4G users to roam not just in ASEAN countries but also the US and Europe, said a spokesman for SingTel.
The greater bandwidth also allows services like high-definition movies on one's mobile phone across ASEAN, said Forrester telco analyst Clement Teo.
Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim said it was "a good start" with four countries agreeing to free up the bandwidth. He said the move would reap "digital dividends" for those on board. "This will be proof to other member states that if they can do the transition as soon as possible, they will reap the digital dividends too."
At their press conference on Friday, ASEAN ministers also expressed concern about cybercrime, including "hacktivism" - political activism via computer networs - and emphasised the importance of cross-border cooperation in combating the problem.