Following is a speech by Secretary for Information Technology and Broadcasting, Mrs Carrie Yau, at the Opening of the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity Management Committee meeting today (November 27):
Mr Lee, Mr Sharma, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning everybody and a warm Hong Kong welcome to all our international guests. It is a pleasure and an honour to have been asked to address this opening session of your Management Committee meeting. I am especially happy that you have chosen Hong Kong for your annual meeting this year. I am sure you will find our dim sum as enjoyable as the tom yam gung you might usually try during your yearly get-togethers in Bangkok. As most of you know, we are also playing host to the ITU Telecom Asia 2000 conference next week. Many of you will probably attend those meetings as well. So it is a very exciting time for us in Hong Kong to play host not only to one, but two, very important meetings bringing together the most influential and senior telecommunications leaders from the Asia-Pacific and beyond.
The APT plays an important co-ordination role in regional radio-communication issues, which benefits both government and business. Earlier this year, the APT co-ordinated submissions to represent the common position of APT members on such matters as IMT 2000 at the ITU World Radio-communication Conference in Turkey. The APT was also instrumental in organising the first Asia-Pacific Telecommunications Standardization (ASTAP) Forum in February 1998. This forum greatly enhanced regional co-operation on standardisation through information exchange and the harmonisation of activities among members. Regional proposals on telecommunications have also been developed. The latest were submitted to the ITU World Telecommunications Standardisation Assembly in Canada last month.
In recent years, the APT has become involved in a wider range of subjects in keeping with the world-wide trend of convergence in media, technologies and services. Earlier this month, the APT organised the Asia-Pacific Summit on Information Society in Tokyo. These activities and achievements would not have been possible without the hard work of the APT Management Committee, coupled with the active participation of all members.
Much has also been happening in Hong Kong's telecommunications sector within the past few years. We have set out sights on becoming the Internet and communications hub for the region. I believe we will be able to realise that vision. This year, in particular, has been pivotal in taking forward policies that will allow our telecommunications and IT sectors to flourish.
To give you a snapshot of what has been happening, we have:
* Further liberalised our telecommunications market early this year by issuing six more licences for local fixed services using wireless and modem technology
* Opened up the external facilities market from January 2000 and invited 30 applicants using cables or satellites to obtain licences
* Invited five applicants for domestic pay TV programme services to obtain licences
* Taken forward our e-government initiative. Various government services will be available on-line early next month
* Strengthened our legal framework for telecommunications, broadcasting and e-commerce. Our laws now provide for full separation of the regulation of network and content, while at the same time continue to be pro-competition and pro-consumer. Electronic transactions now enjoy the same legal status as paper-based agreements, which provides the secure environment necessary to foster e-commerce.
Our report card for Y2K would not be complete without mentioning progress in regards to the licensing of third-generation (3G) mobile services. Hong Kong is well placed to exploit the business opportunities 3G will bring about. Our operators are leaders in mobile technology applications and services. Our consumers are receptive to new technologies and services. The mobile phone penetration rate in Hong Kong has already reached 71%, the highest penetration rate in Asia and second only to Scandinavia world wide.
Our proposal in the second round consultation was to allocate four 3G network licences. This will be done through a hybrid selection method involving prequalification and spectrum auction. The aim is to encourage competition at the content and service applications level. Second round consultations ended in mid-November and we hope to be able finalise the licensing framework shortly. The 3G licences will be issued 2001, which will ensure that Hong Kong introduces these services around the same time they become available in other advanced economies.
Ladies and gentlemen, as you can see a lot has been happening, will be happening, in Hong Kong's telecommunications sector. The work of the APT has helped ensure that that we do in Hong Kong is also compatible, or complements, what is done elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region.
The Management Committee has a lot of hard work ahead over the next three days. May I wish you all a very successful and fruitful meeting. And please, do come back and visit us again. You will always be welcome.
END/Monday, November 27, 2000