1 It is a pleasure for me to be here with you today -- at the kind invitation of the APT -- to inaugurate this meeting of the Asia-Pacific Standardisation Programme or ASTAP. It is clear that it is timely for us as a region to begin to ...
Yeo Cheow Tong, Minister for Communications & Information Technology - Speech
Singapore, 23 June 1999
1. It is a pleasure for me to be here with you today -- at the kind invitation of the APT -- to inaugurate this meeting of the Asia-Pacific Standardisation Programme or ASTAP. It is clear that it is timely for us as a region to begin to address the issue of telecom standardisation, especially given the impact it has on infrastructure development and the trade in telecom goods and services.
Why is standardisation so important?
2. Today's info-communications industry is undergoing a not-so-quiet revolution. From the supply side, new services and applications are being introduced at an amazing pace, spurred by constant, unrelenting developments in technology. From the demand angle, consumers have begun to see telecommunications from a very different perspective. It is no longer a basic utility, but is instead, an indispensable aspect of daily life, both for business and for personal needs. With the convergence of telecommunications, computers and broadcasting, we are seeing the emergence of more integrated info-communication choices for consumers. Standardisation activities are a crucial part of this new picture, as they hold the key to the promise of global interconnectivity and interoperability among different equipment, systems and networks, promising truly ubiquitous use of info-communications for users.
Standardisation activities in Asia-Pacific and the Importance of ASTAP
3. Thus far, activity in the global standardisation arena has been dominated by a few countries. Contributions from the Asia-Pacific region are important to raise our profile and enhance our participation in the global standards debate. After all, in our region, there are several important technology exporters, as well as a huge market for info-communication products and services. For that reason, the APT's launch of Asia-Pacific Telecommunications Standardisation Programme (ASTAP) couldn't have come at a better time.
4. No doubt, there is already much being done internationally in the realm of standards and type-approval harmonisation. We all know the pivotal role that organisations like the ITU play. Casting the net wider, international groupings like the APEC and ASEAN have already expended great effort in promoting free and open trade in telecommunication equipment in the region. Initiatives such as the APEC Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) arrangement have been promoted with the aim of enhancing market access and eliminating costly and expensive barriers to trade for the telecommunication equipment industry.
5. ASTAP has an important role to play but it must complement, and not duplicate, existing efforts. ASTAP can provide a valuable framework for regional co-operation in the exchange of standards-related information and perspectives and in the setting of future directions to accelerate global standards development process. While actively supporting ITU's standardisation work and the efforts of APEC and others, ASTAP can play a role in complementary standardisation tasks, such as:
- preparing regional viewpoints on global standardisation issues;
- developing human resources and enhancing the expertise of smaller member countries in standards development and implementation; and
- harmonising standards for type-approval and certification of telecommunication terminal equipment within the region.
Priorities for Standardisation Activities in ASTAP
6. I would like to suggest that ASTAP focus its efforts carefully on a number of key activities, such as:
- Exchange of information on standardisation concerning standards for new technologies and services;
- Upgrading expertise by way of HRD programs, publications, training courses and seminars; and
- Assistance to member countries in the planning and implementation of Asian Information Infrastructure (AII).
7. For our part, Singapore looks to the APT and to ASTAP to support the ITU's international efforts by being a major voice for this region in the larger global debate. And there is of course, a key role for other organisations and entities doing good work in the region in this new standardisation program, such as the Telecommunication Technology Committee (TTC) of Japan Telecommunication Technology Committee (TTC) co-ordinates standardisation in the field of telecommunications in Japan by establishing protocols and standards for connection between telecommunications networks, terminal equipment and a telecommunications network, etc., as well as to disseminate those standards. and the Korean Telecommunications Technology Association (TTA) Korean Telecommunications Technology Association (TTA) serves to strengthen the co-operation between common carriers, manufacturers, academic institutes and organisations. TTA co-ordinates standardisation activities and promotes the latest technologies in the field of telecommunication. TTA was authorised by the Ministry of Communication in 1988, and re-registered as a statutory board in 1992 under the Basic Law of Telecommunications.
8. Indeed, the input from national standards and type-approval bodies will be important for ASTAP to ensure effective implementation of standardisation activities in the region. I urge that we all work together, openly and inclusively, to ensure that global interconnectivity and interoperability of equipment and services are facilitated.
9. Ladies and gentlemen, from the time it was announced that ASTAP would meet in Singapore this week, I have heard from several governments and manufacturers, both from within the region and beyond. I can tell you this: there is great interest in this latest endeavour of the APT. The eyes and ears of the global standards community will be focused on the outcome of these deliberations, in order to discern the tone and direction that ASTAP sets for itself.
10. I urge you all to send a positive signal to the international community about the role ASTAP intends to play. We must make it clear that ASTAP was not established in order to create a regional bloc, or to hamper global discussions on standardisation in any way. It is instead, an attempt by the Asia-Pacific region to join the process in a meaningful way, because we have a rightful place there. ASTAP is intended to complement existing efforts and to bring a fresh Asia-Pacific perspective, but not to build barriers to the global standards process or to duplicate work that is already being satisfactorily conducted elsewhere.
11. So, it is very important that from the outset, the APT sends this strong but positive signal to the international community about ASTAP. Clearly, if ASTAP is managed and positioned right, it will boost the stature of the APT immensely and establish the APT as a premier voice for the region on this important issue. The APT has shown vision and initiative in organising this ASTAP Forum and for that, it should be congratulated. I believe this is one of the most worthwhile endeavours the APT has undertaken. Certainly, Singapore will do its part to contribute to this forum and to participate where we have the capability.
12. It remains for me now to just wish all of you a good three days' worth of deliberation. You have important work ahead of you! Nonetheless, to our visitors from overseas, I hope you have a pleasant stay here in Singapore. Do please try to see something of our country, over and above the Singapore Expo halls! If we can be of assistance to you in any way during your stay here, you need only ask. TAS and SES staff will be happy to help.
13. Again, best wishes for the success of this meeting. Thank you.