The intention to establish the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Telecommunications and Information Technology Senior Officials Meeting (TELSOM) was raised in May 2000 following the APEC Ministers of Communications and Information Technology Meeting in Cancun, Mexico. It was at the Cancun meeting that the ASEAN Ministers and Senior Officials felt it timely to have a regional platform to look into possible initiatives to tackle the wide-ranging issues concerning communications particularly telecommunications and information technology (IT).
As a result of that discussion, ASEAN TELSOM first met in October 2000 in Brunei Darussalam, followed by the inaugural ASEAN TELMIN in July 2001, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Both fora come under the ASEAN institutional framework and are assisted fully by the ASEAN Secretariat based in Jakarta, Indonesia.
TELSOM comprises Senior Telecommunications Officials duly designated from each of the 10 ASEAN Member countries and meets at least once a year. However, special meetings may be held whenever necessary, or upon directive by TELMIN.
At the 1st TELSOM hosted by the Ministry of Communications, Brunei Darussalam, it was agreed that TELMIN and TELSOM would serve as platforms in responding to the ASEAN Vision 2020 and the Ha Noi Plan of Action in the following areas of development of telecommunications and information infrastructures:
- Achieve the interoperability and interconnectivity of National Information Infrastructures (NIIs) of Member States by the year 2010.
- Develop and implement an ASEAN Plan of Action on Regional Broadband Interconnectivity and
- Intensify cooperation in ensuring seamless roaming of telecommunications services (i.e. wireless communications) within the region, as well as in facilitating intra-ASEAN trade in telecommunications equipment and services.
Based on the plan, it is hoped that TELSOM with the help of the ASEAN Secretariat, plays its role as an executive body to supervise, coordinate and implement policies, programs and activities for telecommunications and Information Technology cooperation in ASEAN, in line with the directions and priorities set by TELMIN.
Specifically, TELSOM's mandate is:
- To identify, implement and monitor cooperation programs and activities to meet the telecommunications and IT requirements of the ASEAN region.
- To serve as a forum for exchange of information, discussion and consultation on major regional or international issues and developments in telecommunications and IT of common interest to Member Countries.
- To provide the mechanism to promote participation of the private sector, regional/international organisations and non-governmental organisations in the development and implementation of its programs and activities.
- To establish, as and when necessary, working groups/expert groups to assist in the development and implementation of its cooperative programs and activities.
- To report progress to the ASEAN Telecommunications Ministers Meeting (TELMIN); and
- To carry out other activities as may be mandated by the TELMIN and as may be requested by other relevant ASEAN bodies.
- To this end, TELSOM coordinates with the ASEAN Telecommunication Regulators' Council (ATRC), the e-ASEAN Business Council and the ASEAN Dialogue and Developmental Partners.