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Inaugural Meeting of the Asian Multimedia Forum

Dr John Chen, Minister of State for Communications Speech - Inaugural Meeting of the Asian Multimedia Forum

Dr John Chen, Minister of State for Communications
Speech - Inaugural Meeting of the Asian Multimedia Forum
Singapore, 10 June 1997

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. It is my pleasure to officiate at the inaugural meeting of the Asian Multimedia Forum in Singapore. With world-wide interest in multimedia development and the increasing emphasis of Asian countries in the development of this nascent multimedia industry, the formation of an Asian Multimedia Forum is timely.

The rapid convergence of the telecommunications, broadcasting and computer technologies, is fundamentally changing the business environment related to these industries. No longer can companies whose expertise lies with one of the technologies operate with little regard to the developments in the other technologies. Today, in order to continue to thrive and prosper, companies have to raise their awareness and acquire a keen knowledge of changes affecting all 3 technologies. This is necessary if the companies are to respond effectively to increasing market demands for multimedia applications and services.

As such, the objectives which the Forum has set for itself, that is, promoting the development, acceptance and implementation of multimedia applications and services to cater for the specific needs of the Asia-Pacific region, are most appropriate. The gathering of major players into a forum to share ideas and exchange views on the challenges and opportunities of the Asian multimedia industry will provide impetus for its development. In connection with this, I would like to congratulate all the companies here for having recognised the need to form the Asian Multimedia Forum. In particular, I would like to congratulate SingTel and Singapore Technologies Telemedia for being Founder members and bringing their colleagues to Singapore for the first meeting.

The Forum's discussion should not only be restricted to identifying and developing commercial multimedia applications and services for the region. Its discussion could also be expanded to help Asian countries expedite and enhance the development of their National Information Infrastructure or NII in short. This will in turn help raise the level of economic development in Asia as well as enhance the quality of life in Asian cities.

I would like to urge the Asian Multimedia Forum to consider in its deliberations, a few issues which I shall now describe.

One of the most important factors for the successful implementation and delivery of multimedia services in this region is the need of internationally-recognised standards for interconnectivity and interoperability between different types of networks and different software platforms. Without these standards, transmission of content and applications between NIIs will be difficult and costly. We will also not be able to reap the benefits of a fully integrated Asia-wide multimedia network.

As such, the Asian Multimedia Forum can serve as a useful forum for discussion of standardisation issues and adoption of standards that are accepted not only regionally but also internationally. With the increased interest in building Broadband Cities in this region, such standardisation issues have to be resolved sooner than later if seamless integration of multimedia networks is to take place. The Asian Multimedia Forum can serve as an open forum with a diverse list of members which may include telecommunication operators, equipment manufacturers and multimedia service providers.

The Asian Multimedia Forum may also consider working with their country's government officials through APEC and ASEAN forums where discussions on harmonisation of standards and interconnectivity of NIIs are on-going .

Another important task for the Asian Multimedia Forum is to produce ideas, applications, services and products which will in many ways complement the NIIs. A wired up global multimedia network cannot be realised unless there are useful applications running on the NIIs. The gathering of major multimedia industry players to engage in thought-provoking discussions will hopefully help to generate ideas, applications and products which will turn the NIIs into a backbone infrastructure supporting Asia's economic growth.

As you may be aware by now, the pilot Singapore ONE Network and Services, Singapore's NII, was launched by the Prime Minister yesterday at the opening of the Asia Telecom Exhibition. With the start of the operation of Singapore ONE, we are one of the first countries in the world with a near-nation-wide broadband network that can offer interactive multimedia services directly to the homes. Singapore is also potentially the first to integrate the local access networks of Singapore Cable Vision's hybrid-fibre-coaxial cable (HFC) infrastructure and SingTel's planned nation-wide Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line infrastructure into one high-speed core Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) network. Singapore ONE, therefore, provides an excellent platform to build and implement new and leading edge technologies, as well as applications and services. It is also an excellent market launch pad for a variety of applications and services to reach every household and office, and eventually outside Singapore.

The Singapore ONE project, in essence, is the Government's effort to kick-start the development of broadband multimedia industry in Singapore. A major milestone has been accomplished with the launch of the Singapore ONE pilot network and services yesterday. Now the time has come for the involvement of the private sector. The active participation of the private sector will represent one of the key barometers of success of this project. This involvement can range from service provision to technology provision at all levels. Participation can come from both domestic and foreign sources.

Finally, this Forum serves not only as an appropriate place where such like-minded organisations come together to tackle the interesting challenges facing the dynamic multimedia industry in the coming years, it can also complement the activities of similar forums in Asia at the local level such as the Singapore Multimedia Forum which was launched by the Minister for Communications recently. The high level and extent of activity generated in this arena clearly signals the keen interest of participation in the multimedia industry.

The Asian Multimedia Forum has thus important work ahead. The outcome and conclusions of your discussions will affect and shape the development of regional cities and the advent of the Global Information Society.

With this, I wish the Asian Multimedia Forum fruitful discussions and every success in accomplishing its objectives. Thank you very much.