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Welcoming Address by Mrs Jessie Ting
Deputy Secretary for Information Technology and Broadcasting at the Opening of the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association Conference

10 March 1999

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honored to have been invited to address this Conference organised by the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association. Let me extend a warm welcome to you all. As one of the most vibrant markets for mobile telecommunications services in the world, Hong Kong is a choice location for conferences such as this one.

For those of you who are visiting Hong Kong, it would not take you long to notice that mobile phones are ubiquitous here. As at the end of 1998, the penetration rate of mobile phone services reached 43%, the highest in the world outside the Scandinavia. Consumers' choices in Hong Kong are second to none. With eleven digital networks provided by six operators using different technical standards, consumers in Hong Kong are able to choose the services that best suit their budget and personal preferences in the market.

Consumers' choice has been further enhanced with the implementation of Mobile Number Portability earlier this month. Mobile phone users are now able to retain their numbers when changing networks. This has removed the last barrier to full competition and free consumer choice. I understand that only two other places have introduced Mobile Number Portability before Hong Kong, and we are the second place in the world to implement Mobile Number Portability using the more sophisticated "distributed database" approach to route calls. In short, Hong Kong takes a lead in the fast evolving mobile telecommunications industry.

The achievements of Hong Kong's mobile phone market are attributable to a number of factors, not least the responsiveness of the operators. But, of fundamental importance is the pro-competition and pro-consumer policy we have adopted. It is our firm policy to promote fair and effective competition across the entire telecommunications market. Our mobile telecommunications market has always been open to competition. There are no artificial barrier on market entry and the number of operators is constrained only by the availability of radio spectrum. And there are no restrictions whatsoever on foreign ownership.

To ensure fair competition in the market, we have set up an independent regulator, the Telecommunications Authority, which is supported by the Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA). The Director-General of OFTA, Mr Anthony Wong, will share with you later this morning the regulatory regime for the telecommunications industry in Hong Kong.

We are committed to keeping Hong Kong in the forefront of the application of mobile telecommunications technologies. Conferences such as this one provide an excellent forum for us to share experience and exchange views on issues of mutual interest. I wish you all a productive meeting.

Thank you.