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Speech by PSCT at Hong Kong International Wireless Conference

Following is a speech by the Permanent Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology (Communications and Technology), Mr Francis Ho, at the Hong Kong International Wireless Conference this (April 15) morning: (English only)

Mr John Chiu, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good Morning! It gives me pleasure to attend the Hong Kong International Wireless Conference 2005. I am particularly grateful to John and the Hong Kong Wireless Technology Industry Association (WTIA) for bringing together many local and international experts in the field to this Conference.

Wireless and mobile technology has been growing at a breath-taking pace in the past decade. This is evident not only in countries where information and communications technology (ICT) development has reached an advanced stage but more so in the developing world. Some even predict that wireless and mobile devices could be a more efficient and effective means to bridge the digital divide in the least developed countries.

With an excellent telecommunications infrastructure, one of the highest mobile penetration rates in the world (118% by January 2005), the roll-out of 3G network services and a high proportion of avid users of mobile applications, Hong Kong possesses many of the success factors to be a key or even leading player in the development of innovative wireless applications, content and services. A good supply of local talents in multimedia content creation and their knowledge of the Mainland and international markets further add to Hong Kong's strengths as a wireless content provider.

For this reason, the Government has identified wireless technology and services as one of the focus areas for technological development in our Digital 21 Strategy, the blueprint for ICT development in Hong Kong. A number of initiatives have been launched to support the further development of the industry.

As early as December 2003, the Government has funded the establishment and initial operation of the Hong Kong Wireless Development Centre (HKWDC) by the WTIA in Cyberport. The HKWDC provides a unique multi-operator and multi-vendor platform with connectivity to the wireless network of different standards, impartial to all commercial concerns. Wireless developers can develop and test their applications across different operators and devices, significantly reducing their costs and shortening development cycles. I am particularly glad to note that the HKWDC has entered into collaborative partnership with a number of overseas counterparts including m.Net in Australia and TR Labs in Canada.

Last year, the Government set up a task force together with the industry to implement a programme of activities covering awareness promotion, applications development and professional training. To take the programme forward, a new task force has been established by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) earlier this year comprising representatives from the industry, academia and the Government to drive the adoption and development of innovative applications. The new task force aims to identify matters of common interest among various sectors and resolve issues relating to wireless technology and services.

The Government has also funded and supported the "3G Cyberport" Project, which was also launched by WTIA in October 2004. Leveraging on the excellent infrastructure in Cyberport, the Project provides a platform for testing and conducting trial runs as well as commercialization of innovative 3G applications by local developers and their partners. The Project also comprises a training element to nurture local developers of 3G applications, content and services.

We are also mindful of the need to keep our regulatory regime up-to-date with the technological developments. In view of the substantial interest in the development of broadband wireless access (BWA) for fixed telecommunications services, we conducted a public consultation exercise to solicit views on the proposed licensing framework for deployment of BWA. We are studying these carefully with a view to determining an appropriate BWA licensing framework.

The Government will continue to play a facilitating and enabling role in the development of wireless technology and applications in Hong Kong, by putting in place the right infrastructure, regulatory regime and business environment and funding worthwhile initiatives. Notwithstanding the strengths of and exciting prospects for Hong Kong, the success or otherwise of the wireless industry, as with other industries, depends to a large extent on the innovative capability, entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen of our industry players.

I am glad to note that today's Conference will provide excellent opportunities for the participants to exchange views on the future trends of and challenges to the wireless industry. It is also an innovative idea to hold an Investment Forum in parallel with the main forum. I would like to thank the WTIA and the co-organisers for organising the Conference and coming up with a splendid programme. I trust participants will benefit from the fruitful discussions at the Conference and the networking in the margins.

Thank you.

Friday, April 15, 2005