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New Business Opportunities For The Region

14 June 2005 - Opening Address By Dr Lee Boon Yang, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts At Official Opening Ceremony of the Infocomm Media Business Exchange 2005, Singapore Expo.

Opening Address By Dr Lee Boon Yang, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts At Official Opening Ceremony of the Infocomm Media Business Exchange 2005 on 14 June 2005, Singapore Expo.

Honourable Ministers,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen.

Good morning.

1. I would like to extend a warm welcome to all participants, exhibitors and delegates to the Infocomm Media Business Exchange. I am also very glad to see such a good turnout from both the infocomm and media industries here today. The Organisers have informed me that they expect over 56,000 people to attend the conferences, exhibitions and activities under the auspices of imbX in the week ahead. This high level of interest and keen participation certainly reflects the continued confidence in prospects for the infocomm and media sectors.

2. In Singapore, our local infocomm sector continues to enjoy healthy growth. According to the latest preliminary figures from the Infocomm Development Authority's Annual Survey on the Infocomm Industry for 2004, the infocomm industry's revenue grew by 5 percent to reach S$34 billion. Companies surveyed also gave a positive revenue growth forecast in the region of 3 to 5 percent over the next 2 years. In line with the positive growth expectation, demand for infocomm jobs is expected to increase by 3 to 4 percent for the next 2 years. For the region, the outlook also appears promising. According to Gartner Inc, IT services in the Asia-Pacific1 region outside of Japan grew by 12.4 per cent to US$31.3 billion in 2004, outperforming the global growth rate of 8 per cent.

Digital Opportunities

3. imbX is about creating opportunities and exchanges for all participants. With growing digitalisation in the infocomm and media field, and an increasing contribution of digital goods to regional trade, Singapore seeks to grow a digital ecosystem.

4. This year's imbX will also witness the first Digital Exchange Day or DX Day presented by IDA. We welcome global digital media players to participate in DX Day, which promises to engage visitors with the latest technologies in digital media and the commercial possibilities in this space. Already, the Asian D-Cinema Summit at this year's imbX will witness the commercial offerings made possible by the joint government-industry collaboration in the form of the Cross Continent Digital Content Transmission or CCTx project.

5. These initiatives, together with a robust infrastructure and strong IP protection environment, help to position Singapore as a Digital Exchange Hub. Local and international companies can now hub their digital assets in Singapore. Through such efforts, we hope to achieve S$500 million worth of digital transactions by 2006.

6. This year's Broadcast Asia will feature several new technologies and applications. Mobile broadcasting technologies such as DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting: Handhelds) and DMB (Digital Multimedia Broadcasting), will be on show. You will be able to witness the first DVB-H trial in the world which provides outdoor coverage on a nationwide scale, through collaborative effort between Nokia, M1 and Mediacorp.

8. Our home-grown companies will also be displaying their new technologies and initiatives at BroadcastAsia2005. For instance, MXR Cubes will showcase their innovations in Mixed Reality, which allow for a more natural and intuitive mode of human computer interactions. PGK Media will also be presenting a world's first Video Billboard System, which allow content distributors to digitally transmit movie clips, music video and other video information simultaneously to multiple, distributed billboards in real-time via digital broadcasting. Go Mobile, another local company, will also be showing a more cost effective system for streaming financial information on the go using Digital Audio Broadcasting. These new technologies will influence and even define how we produce, consume and interact with media in the future.


9. As we welcome the opportunities, we should also be prepared for the challenges ahead, especially in face of new emerging technologies that have a revolutionary effect. Voice-over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, is one prominent example of an emerging technology which possesses the potential to change the telecommunications landscape dramatically. There is already a worldwide shift in the business paradigm to deliver voice services using Internet Protocol in recent years. In view of this, fellow ICT Ministers from the region have joined me yesterday for the inaugural imbX Ministerial Forum on ICT, where we had a most fruitful discussion with the industry on the challenges brought about by the emergence of VoIP.

10. Generic VoIP services are not new to Singapore. International Data Corp (IDC) has estimated that Singapore had generated US$104.5 million from VoIP services revenue in 2003, and US$166.8 million in 2004. We can expect to see a growing adoption of this technology among consumers in the near future.

11. In response to this development and recognition of the increasing potential of IP Telephony, I am pleased to announce a new policy framework for these services today. IDA will issue licences and phone numbers for the provision of IP telephony services to facilitate the entry of companies interested in offering IP Telephony services in Singapore.

12. Under the new IP telephony framework, VoIP services will co-exist alongside existing telephony services. IDA will issue a new 8-digit number level beginning with the number "3" to operators providing VoIP services with minimal regulatory obligations. Notwithstanding this, operators can still allocate level "6" numbers for IP telephony services if they can fulfil service requirements currently imposed for local fixed line services. We expect growth in IP Telephony to bring about reduced costs in providing telephone services, and in turn, translate to reduced prices and more service choices for businesses and consumers.

Tapping Industry Expertise

13. We acknowledge that the Government must work closely with the industry in order to keep pace with the latest technology developments, and more importantly, to harness technology for our socio-economic development. We recognize that to succeed in this rapidly evolving sector, we must maintain links with top practitioners and thought-leaders in the infocomm world. This will help Singapore to assess the impact of technological trends and guide us to better exploit technology for bigger improvements to business efficiency and quality of life.

14. To this end, Singapore is setting up an Infocomm International Advisory Panel (IAP) as a platform to engage global Infocomm leaders and our close partners to help chart the directions for our info-communications industry and to capitalise on the growth opportunities in global marketplace. This platform allows Singapore to have continual dialogues at the strategic level with leading industry leaders for a healthy exchange of ideas. The inaugural meeting of its members is scheduled for 2006, when all the IAP members will gather in Singapore to discuss the future of Infocomm technologies and its impact on Business and Society in Asia.

15. I am pleased to announce that Minister Lim Swee Say, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for National Development, will be the Chairman of the IAP. Minister Lim comes to the IAP with an extensive background and understanding of the ICT industry. Other luminaries who have kindly agreed to be part of the IAP include Ms Ann Livermore, Executive Vice-President, Technology Solutions Group, Hewlett Packard; Mr John Joyce, Senior Vice-President and Group Executive, IBM Global Services; Mr Craig Mundie, Senior Vice President, Chief Technical Officer, Advanced Strategies and Policy, Microsoft; Mr Akinobu Kanasugi, President and CEO of NEC; and, Mr Charles Phillips, President and Board Member of Oracle Corporation. We will be also inviting other distinguished personalities to be part of this effort, and we look forward to their participation and contributions.

16. To balance the serious discussion and business dealings of imbX, I would like to highlight that the Singapore Arts Festival is also running concurrently. I hope you will be able to take some time off to enjoy one or more of the performances featuring Singaporean and renowned international artistes. On this note, I am pleased to now declare the Infocomm Media Business Exchange 2005 open. I wish all our overseas visitors a pleasant stay in Singapore, and may all of you have an enriching time at imbX 2005.

Thank you.


1Gartner defines the Asia and Pacific region as Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, India, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and the rest of Asia-Pacific.