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Speech by PSCT at Digital Lifestyle Show cum Forum (English only)

    Following is a speech by the Permanent Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development (Communications and Technology), Mrs Rita Lau, at the Opening Ceremony of Digital Lifestyle Show cum Forum today (November 22):

Mr Li (Gang), Professor Gao (Xinmin), Dr Tang (Winnie), Ladies and Gentlemen,

     I am pleased to participate in the opening ceremony of Digital Lifestyle Show cum Forum today jointly organised by the Internet Professional Association, School of Design of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Information Technology Division of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers and the Internet Society of China.

     In modern metropolises, digital technology has become an essential part of life.  The innovative application of digital technology has greatly enhanced the living standard of people.  The continuous striving for a better life has in turn become the impetus to the innovation and application of digital technology.  Intricately inter-related and mutually dependent, digital technology and lifestyle of people have not only generated this new concept of "digital lifestyle", but also paved the way for creative industries.

Digital 21 Strategy

     The Government is committed to furthering the development of information and communications technology (ICT) in Hong Kong.  We have formulated the Digital 21 Strategy as the blueprint to realise that vision.  First published in 1998, the strategy has been updated in 2001 and 2004 to take into account the evolving needs of the community and technological advancement.  A new version of the strategy is being finalised, after undergoing wide consultation with the stakeholders, and will be released very soon.

Convergence and Ubiquitous Networks

     Talking about technological advancement, it is a catalyst for the convergence of the networks of Internet, telephony and television, whether they are fixed or mobile.  Information, multi-media content, entertainment and related services are also converging into a single device.  To meet these new challenges, we need to equip ourselves with an infrastructure that supports ubiquity, that is, the ability to be present, stay connected and interact anywhere, any time.

     The SAR Government has been actively developing Hong Kong into a leading digital city.  I should like to mention a few initiatives here.  In the coming two years, we will invest over HK$200 million to provide Wi-Fi facilities for free access by the public in government premises such as libraries, community centres and parks.  We will also facilitate the industry in extending wireless networks in other areas by allowing the provision of networks at public facilities, such as bridges and lamp posts, at nominal rent.

     Our facilitatory measures do not stop here.  Apart from our existing 3G networks that could provide high-speed connections to light-weight and highly mobile devices, we consider that the introduction of broadband wireless access (BWA) services in Hong Kong would provide additional capacity to support advanced applications and wireless Internet access.  We will finalise spectrum allocation and licensing arrangements next year.

     Rapid advances in broadband technologies and convergence between telecommunications and broadcasting have created opportunities for telecommunications operators to offer IP television (IPTV) services.  We have the world's first and probably largest commercial Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) deployment in Hong Kong.  There are now three IPTV operators with over 800,000 subscribers.

     Another major initiative is the introduction of digital terrestrial television (DTT) broadcasting at the end of this year.  The public can then view high definition television programmes as well as use brand-new interactive multi-media applications and entertainment functions on television sets, such as home shopping and computer games.  This will certainly further enhance our quality of living and provide investment opportunities for our content and service providers.

Creative Industries

     In his recent Policy Address, the Chief Executive has said that in order to maintain our leading position among the neighbouring regions, development of creative industries must accelerate in the next five years.  We are indeed observing that the creative industries are playing an increasingly important role in our economy.  At the same time, the use of digital technology to deliver and facilitate the creation of innovative content is now becoming the norm in those industries.

     Last week, I attended the Third Shanghai International Creative Industry Week and visited the exhibition where concepts, ideas and products of the creative industries from overseas, the Mainland and Hong Kong were showcased.  I am impressed by the achievements of Hong Kong's creative industries in terms of its uniqueness and its advanced position in areas like comics, architecture, Project '9707', and digital entertainment where digital technology is extensively adopted.  This also demonstrates that Hong Kong people are creative and innovative.

     In this connection, I would like to point out that while we are going to further the development of creative industries including the digital lifestyle concept, we have to be mindful about information security and data privacy.  The SAR Government has spared no effort in promoting the importance of information security to the public at large and as we witness the development of digital lifestyle, we must ensure that information security will be an ingredient embedded into it.

Joint Efforts of All Parties

     In closing, I believe that with the concerted efforts among the community, the industry and the Government, creative industries in Hong Kong including the concept of digital lifestyle will take off and become another driving force of Hong Kong's economy in the future.  We are privileged to have the presence of distinguished speakers from the Mainland and locally to share with us their insights and ideas on the subject.  I wish the Digital Lifestyle Show cum Forum every success.

     Thank you.

Ends/Thursday, November 22, 2007
Issued at HKT 18:36


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