Following is the speech by the Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang, at the opening ceremony of GSMA Mobile Asia Congress 2009 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre this morning (November 18):
Mr Izosimov (Chairman of GSM Association), Mr Conway (CEO of GSM Association), Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Good morning to you all.It is interesting to see so many high- powered people assembling at this time of the day.It must be a mission there for you all to participate.For me, it is a real pleasure to join you, and to welcome our visitors to Hong Kong. We are delighted to be hosting this prestigious Congress.
No doubt you will have noticed that mobile phones are part and parcel of everyday life in Hong Kong whether we are at work, rest or play. Our mobile phone penetration rate is among the highest anywhere, about 160 per cent. Most people have more than one phone and users are eager to get their hands on the very latest technology.
We also have a highly competitive telecommunications sector and firm commitment to maintaining a free flow of information and ideas as well as a free and unfettered media. This has resulted in low cost calling and promoted innovation and the development of new mobile technology.
In other words, Hong Kong is an ideal location for market leaders in the mobile sector to share their vision and strategies that will shape the future of mobile communications development.
Governments also have an important role in establishing a sophisticated and dynamic telecommunications market.
In a city of seven million people we have almost 12 million mobile subscribers. Almost four-and-a-half million are subscribing to 2.5G or 3G services.
There is a great deal of room for growth and innovation in the sector as more attractive and advanced products such as netbooks and smartphones become more widely available in the market.
In Hong Kong, there are now some 8 600 Wi-Fi hotspots with the number increasing all the time.Under our Go Wireless, Stay Connected strategy, we invested around US$28 million in 2007 to develop the Government WiFi Programme. The Programme provides free public Wi-Fi services at some 360 Government premises including libraries, leisure facilities and tourist spots. This has also spurred the development of Wi-Fi services by private sector operators.
Crucial to establishing world-class telecommunications infrastructure is an open and liberal regulatory environment.
We have no foreign ownership restriction in our telecommunications market and we do not set a limit for the number of players. This is determined mostly by the market. One exception is where there are physical constraints such as spectrum supply that limits the number of licences to be issued.
We constantly review our telecommunications policies and their implementation to ensure that they continue to adapt to the highly changing market and meet the needs of the consumer.
In August last year, we introduced the Unified Carrier Licensing regime to pave the way for fixed-mobile convergence.The Unified Carrier Licences allow operators and new market entrants to provide fixed, mobile and converged telecommunication services under a single streamlined and flexible licence.
Earlier this year, we released radio spectrum through auction for operators to run high-speed wireless access services, starting the move towards the introduction of 3.5G and 4G services. The spectrum for Broadband Wireless Access, or BWA, was auctioned off at more than US$190 million.
In line with our technology-neutral policy, there is generally no restriction on the technology standards, applications and services that BWA can deploy. With a high-speed rate of up to 100 megabits per second, the new BWA services could transform the entire mobile industry.
Our tech-savvy community will soon be able to experience a wide range of creative next generation and high-speed mobile services and applications. Mobile social networking, multimedia content sharing, mobile ticketing services and location-based mapping guides are just some of the possibilities.
Ladies and gentlemen, over the years, our telecommunications infrastructure has enhanced Hong Kongs competitiveness as a leading digital city in our interconnected world.
Today, Hong Kong serves as a strategic telecommunications hub in the Asia Pacific region and a premier gateway to the vast markets in the mainland of China. We welcome more companies to invest in our telecommunications infrastructure, services and applications.
I hope I have provided a little food for thought. I wish you all a successful Congress and an enjoyable stay in Hong Kong, Asias world city.
Thank you very much.