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SCIT speaks on convergence of fixed and mobile communications services

Following is the transcript of the Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology, Mr John Tsang, speaking to the media after addressing the luncheon meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce today (July 22):

SCIT: With developments in convergence technologies and standards, the demarcation between fixed and mobile telecommunications markets will blur. The structure of the telecommunications industry in the near future will be quite different from what it is today.

From a policy perspective, our challenge is to remove policy and regulatory uncertainties so that existing players and potential entrants could make informed investment decisions.

We will maintain our technology neutral approach and allow market forces to decide on the most suitable technologies and standards to meet customer needs.

On the regulatory front, the Office of the Telecommunications Authority will conduct a comprehensive review shortly on three fronts:

The first is licensing arrangements. We need to consider four aspects: (1) whether we should create a new type of carrier licence, such as a "unified" carrier licence; (2) what specific rights and obligations should be attached to this proposed licence; (3) whether existing fixed or mobile carrier licensees should be allowed to migrate to this new "unified" carrier licence, and if so, (4) what are the appropriate transition arrangements. We intend to push out the consultation in the next two months.

The second aspect is the interconnection charging arrangement between fixed and mobile carriers. Owing to the converging environment between fixed and mobile markets, we need to review the current interconnection charging arrangement. We will be getting consultants to study this aspect in a few months' time. Thereafter, we will consult the public. We will also look into this in particular, in the context of our basket of measures to combat spamming.

And the third aspect is the fixed/mobile number portability. The consultancy study on interconnection charge will also look into this aspect of the issue.

Reporter: If the renminbi keeps appreciating, how will that affect Hong Kong's trade and the strategy of businesses in Hong Kong in the next five to 10 years?

SCIT: In the short term, we do not see any major effect on them. In general, there is positive impact on Hong Kong, given that we will be much more competitive, and much more attractive for using Hong Kong as the base. So I think a lot of positive side to that.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript)

Friday, July 22, 2005