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Speech by John C Tsang, JP Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology at the Opening Ceremony of the Hong Kong Wireless Development Centre Hong Kong Cyberport on 15 December 2003

Mr Strickland, Mr Lau, Distinguished Guest, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to officiate at the Grand Opening Ceremony of the Hong Kong Wireless Development Centre.

The pace of technological development in recent years has been amazing. I still recall vividly some two decades ago when a handful of impressive individuals carried large water bottle styled mobile phones wherever they went. These phones were very expensive, and tended to be more a symbol of status and prestige than a functional tool. Today, mobile phones, are slim, handy, and highly functional, and have become virtually a necessity to all walks of life. Our penetration rate of 99% is amongst the highest in the world, and is a clear testimony of the willingness of our community to embrace new services to meet their needs.

Moreover, wireless services are no longer limited to voice transmission. With the "always-on" and broadband capabilities brought on by advanced wireless technologies like 3G, people on the move will be able to access data intensive applications and personalized multi-media services, like video telephony, anytime, anywhere. Through the use of such platforms, users can obtain with suitable applications substantial amount of information or make complex transactions that are hitherto limited to wireline-connected devices.

Korea and Japan have often been quoted as successful examples in driving up utilisation of wireless applications. Their success can be attributed largely to the availability of niche applications and services that appeal to a large body of consumers. The experience of these two countries points to the importance of a vibrant and flourishing wireless content and application industry in the development of wireless services.

When it comes to content and application development, Hong Kong is clearly in an advantageous position. We have a strong and innovative wireless industry that constantly provides cutting-edge applications and services to satisfy astute customers. Our cultural affinity, language capability and business know-how give us a clear competitive edge in exploring not just the local market, but also the much larger market to our north, the biggest growing mobile market in the world.

Government is keen to promote wireless development. We have put in place a regulatory regime that is conducive to the healthy development of wireless applications and services. In licensing 3G services, we have required each 3G licensee to open up 30% of their capacities to non-affiliated content or mobile virtual network operators. Through this provision, there should be ample opportunities for application and content developers who are creative, innovative and customer-oriented to develop successful wireless application services.

The Hong Kong Wireless Development Centre is another major step that we are taking to facilitate the development of wireless applications in Hong Kong. Leveraging on the state-of-the-art infrastructure and cluster effect of our IT flagship Cyberport, the Centre will render end-to-end infrastructural support to the wireless application development in Hong Kong from information, consultancy, development, deployment to product dissemination. In particular, it will provide a unique multi-operator and multi-vendor platform with connectivity to the wireless network. This will greatly facilitate the development of innovative wireless applications, by application developers. It is also our wish to develop a strategic cluster of these wireless application developers right here in Cyberport.

Funded by the Innovation and Technology Fund and managed by the Hong Kong Wireless Technology Industry Association, the Hong Kong Wireless Development Centre is a true public-private partnership initiative. I am particularly grateful to the Association for taking the lead to establish and operate the Centre. Not only will the Centre contribute to the further development of wireless applications in Hong Kong, it also marks the first across-the-board collaboration of the wireless industry, which in itself is a significant achievement. All key industry players, including the six mobile network operators, major handset manufacturers, software and hardware vendors are partners of the Centre, sponsoring the latest equipment and connectivity to mobile network. I am sure this is just the beginning of such industry-wide collaboration, and that many more meaningful projects will surely follow.

I look forward to seeing the fruits of our concerted efforts in enhancing Hong Kong's leadership position in the telecommunications industry.

Thank you.