x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Asia Pacific countries gear up for high-speed mobile broadband

Weeks after the UAE decided to open up its 700 MHz and 800 MHz frequencies for high-speed mobile broadband, the Asia Pacific countries have followed suit with plans to align their 700Mhz spectrum by 2020.

Weeks after the UAE decided to open up its 700 MHz and 800 MHz frequencies for high-speed mobile broadband, the Asia Pacific countries have followed suit with plans to align their 700Mhz spectrum by 2020.

The telecoms authorities of Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia announced the news at the annual Infocomm Media Business Exchange, Asia's largest ICT and media exhibition.

The bandwidth is vital for the use of long-term evolution (LTE) also known as fourth generation (4G) technology. This type of mobile broadband enables speeds that are up to six times faster than current third generation (3G) networks. Aligning them with neighbouring countries allows for seamless connectivity across borders and users across the Asia Pacific will be have greater access to rich media content like HD video on mobile devices.

"The agreement, which is in line with the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity band plan, will allow the countries to meet growing demand for mobile broadband, improve regional mobile roaming ad provide more competitive mobile broadband services," said Yaacob Ibrahim, Singapore's minister for communications and information.

International roaming is an important aspect of opening up the spectrums, affording travellers instant connectivity no matter which device they are using. There are three IT regions as classified by the UN's International Telecommunication Union. The Middle East, Africa and Europe are categorised as ITU Region 1, the Americas constitute Region 2 and Asia Pacific makes up Region 3. Each region uses different spectrums that may not always be compatible with the devices that manufacturers produce.

But with this agreement, the world is a step closer to a more harmonised telecommunications standard. This means that travellers from the Middle East using devices like the iPhone 5 and Samsung S4 that work on the 700MHz frequency will face no problems with connecting them in Asia.

Smartphones and tablets are on the rise across Asia and the Middle East. According to Ericsson, there will be 50 billion connected devices by 2020 across the world, these will require more radio frequency spectrums to cope with the inevitable growth in demand for data.

"It is a significant jump between 3G and LTE. Connection speeds of 700-800MHz offers lower latency, which is better for video streaming and cloud applications. It suddenly makes cloud applications viable which can completely transform the ecosystem," said Peter Lyons, the director of public policy of Middle East and Africa at GSMA.

 

thamid@thenational.ae