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Speech by SCED at CAHK 34th anniversary gala dinner and STAR award presentation ceremony (English only)
     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Edward Yau, at the Communications Association of Hong Kong 34th anniversary gala dinner and STAR award presentation ceremony today (October 31):

Stephen (Chairman of the Communications Association of Hong Kong, Mr Stephen Ho), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good evening. It is my pleasure to join you all on this very happy occasion of celebrating the 34th anniversary of the Communications Association of Hong Kong (CAHK).

     Thirty-four years ago when the CAHK was found, it was an era when voice communications were conducted mainly over the copper wire network of a single service provider. It was also an era when mobile phone was almost unheard of in Hong Kong.

     Today, with the advancement of technologies and the tremendous efforts of all members of the CAHK, we are reaping the benefits of an information era with the roll-out of fibre networks all over Hong Kong, offering speedy services at one gigabit up per second to most, some go as fast as 10 gigabits per second; when video messages can be sent to the other end of the world instantly with a just click of our fingers through the mobile internet at a speed of 600 megabits per second.

     Indeed, Hong Kong now has one of the most extensive optical fibre networks in the world, with an average peak connection speed of 129.5 megabits per second. We now have 30 mobile and local fixed network operators and numerous vendors providing plenty of choices of affordable and quality telecommunications services to our consumers. With a mobile subscriber penetration rate at 240 per cent, Hong Kong ranked first among 139 economies in terms of mobile subscriber penetration rate and mobile network coverage.

     All these are testimonies to our robust world-class telecommunications infrastructure which serves as the vertebral pillar of our economy, meeting the communication needs of our businesses and our community.

     We must not be complacent however of our many achievements. Telecommunications technology is evolving fast - this is an area where one needs to run in order to stand still. The Government and the industry have to work together to facilitate our leapfrog jump into a 21st century smart city through the wider use of e-platforms.

     While our household broadband penetration rate at over 90 per cent is already among the highest in the world, those living in villages in rural and remote areas are still not able to access to high speed broadband services. I am pleased to say that the Chief Executive has announced in the 2017 Policy Address that the Government will take the lead in providing financial incentives to encourage telecommunications operators to extend fibre-based network to villages in remote areas. It is expected that about 380 villages currently without high-speed broadband network coverage will benefit from the scheme, involving some 170 000 villagers. We would be consulting the nine concerned District Councils on the users' requirements and hope to be able to seek funding from the Legislative Council some time towards middle of next year to launch the scheme. This initiative does indeed demonstrate the people-oriented philosophy of the current term government.

     To prepare for the 5G era, the Communications Authority (CA) is already all geared up in conducting consultations on making available spectrum in the 3.4 to 3.6 MHz band and 26 GHz to 28 GHz band for the provision of mobile services. The CA is also facilitating telecommunications operators to conduct 5G trials by issuing them the necessary permits. Meanwhile, the Government has also commissioned a consultancy study on Hong Kong's telecommunications infrastructure capacity with a view to ensuring that our infrastructural capacity will meet future demands. I understand that as part of the study, the consultant will start the stakeholders engagement exercise soon and I look to all of you for your support.

     So much on the telecommunications side. Let us move to broadcasting. As the blossoming of over-the-top television services and various forms of online infotainment over the Internet and mobile platforms in recent years has completely changed the business environment of Hong Kong's broadcasting industry, the Government is now reviewing the broadcasting and telecommunications-related ordinances with the aim of relaxing outdated statutory requirements on traditional media and rationalising the regulatory regime. We expect to conduct public consultation in early 2018 on our relaxation proposals. I would encourage all of you to take part by letting us have your submissions nearer the time.

     Ladies and gentlemen, tonight is an occasion to celebrate not only the achievements of the industry, but also the efforts and contributions of industry players who make such achievements possible. The CAHK, as a representative body of industry players, has organised various events and conferences to advance knowledge in the field. It has also been giving unflagging support to the Government in implementing a series of industry self-regulatory initiatives to protect consumer interest. The Customer Complaint Settlement Scheme (CCSS) run by the CAHK has helped successfully resolve over 99 per cent of the billing disputes in deadlock between telecommunications service providers and their customers referred to it. The CCSS is so successful that the Department of Justice has used it as a flagship scheme to promote alternative dispute resolution mechanism in the community.

     Before I close, may I once again convey my heartiest appreciation to the CAHK's contribution and dedication to the development of the communications industry. I have no doubt that the CAHK and its member companies will continue to grow from strength to strength in the years to come.

     Thank you and have a great evening!
Ends/Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Issued at HKT 20:28
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