Mr Mah Bow Tan, Minister for Communications Speech - Joint Opening Ceremony for CommunicAsia 98/ NetworkAsia 98 & BroadcastAsia 98
Mr Mah Bow Tan, Minister for Communications
Speech - Joint Opening Ceremony for CommunicAsia 98/ NetworkAsia 98 & BroadcastAsia 98
Singapore, 2 June 1998
1. It is my pleasure to welcome all of you to CommunicAsia 98. This event has been held in Singapore since 1979 and we are proud that it has steadily developed in international stature and scale.
2. As a new millennium dawns upon us, we find ourselves on the cusp of an exciting new era in info-communications. Just a few years ago, the services provided by telecommunications, broadcasting and IT industries were distinctly separate. Telephone companies essentially supplied voice communications, computer firms handled and stored data, while broadcasting and cable TV companies delivered video programming and news. Today, these business sectors are rapidly merging, no doubt prompted by technological advances and changing market conditions. The technologies are converging at a pace beyond all expectations. Innovative products and services and multimedia applications that cross these traditional boundaries of telecommunications, broadcasting and IT are exploding onto the market place.
3. What makes this even more interesting is that convergence is taking place against a backdrop of global liberalisation of info-communications markets. Nowhere is liberalisation and competition more evident than in the Asia-Pacific region. In the past 5 years, 63 cellular and 35 fixed line new licences were awarded in this region. It is currently the largest market in the world for telecommunications products and services, and its tele-density is growing at twice the rate of any other region in the world. Despite the current economic turmoil in the region, many industry players remain optimistic about the prospects for the long term growth and prosperity of the region.
4. It is therefore highly appropriate that APEC Ministers will be discussing these developments at the third APEC Ministerial Meeting on Telecommunications and the Information Industry or TELMIN3. We will be charting new directions for further developing the Asia Pacific Information Society and widening access to information technologies that will help us live better and work smarter.
5. Indeed, there will be several significant milestones at TELMIN3. We hope to approve a programme of action for electronic commerce. We will also seek to endorse the first ever multilateral Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) on Conformity Assessment for telecommunication equipment. The MRA, as it is called, will help lift barriers to trade and facilitate the opening of APEC markets to telecommunication products from other APEC economies. Both of these initiatives are important steps towards enhancing free and open trade in the APEC region by 2020.
6. Discussions will also be held on how to move towards a knowledge-based society, the Asia-Pacific Information Society. This is envisioned to be a seamless network that will electronically link all APEC member economies. It is an integral part of the larger Global Information Society, where information and knowledge flow seamlessly so that the fruits of development can be shared between developing and developed economies.
7. Toward this goal, many countries have launched initiatives to build National Information Infrastructures and are working towards interconnectivity with other countries. In Singapore, our vision of developing an Intelligent Island is outlined in our IT 2000 masterplan. To realise this vision, we have implemented Singapore ONE - a nation-wide broadband information infrastructure that will enable the delivery of a new level of interactive, multimedia applications and services to homes, businesses and schools throughout Singapore. The number of Singapore ONE users now totals more than 10,000. In terms of infrastructure roll-out, there is near island-wide reach and access.
8. New applications and services are continually being added to Singapore ONE. Singapore ONE's applications cater to many wide-ranging interests, from leisure and entertainment to health information, services for businesses, shopping, banking, education and distance learning. The applications are becoming more sophisticated day by day. We are seeing more multimedia characteristics, as well as electronic commerce and transactional capabilities in the applications. I am pleased to announce today the launch of 20 new applications, in addition to the 103 that are already on-line. To further expand Singapore ONE's market reach and consumer base, the government will active promote Singapore ONE's services available to other pockets of broadband communities around the world.
9. One of the lessons that we have learnt from working on Singapore ONE is that the public and private sectors must work closely. Many of the applications for Singapore ONE that I mentioned were developed by MNCs or innovative local companies. CommunicAsia has been scheduled to coincide with TELMIN3 because of the nexus and scope for synergy between the public and private sectors. My hope is that this week, TELMIN Ministers and their delegates will see first hand in their visit to the CommunicAsia halls, the vast promise that technology holds out for us to build the necessary network infrastructures and services. I am sure with the 17 country pavilions and over 1,000 telecommunications, IT and networking companies exhibiting at the show, there will be exciting opportunities here for the forging of fresh ties and renewing of existing ones.
10. I applaud the initiative and vision of the organisers, Singapore Exhibition Services for organising CommunicAsia 98. I would like to wish the organisers and exhibitors success in the shows, as well as all the delegates and visitors an enriching experience in the exhibition and the conference. On this note, it is my pleasure to declare CommunicAsia 98 open.