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ITU TELECOM ASIA opens in Bangkok

Global leader in ICT, Asia focuses on younger generation of ICT users and innovators

Bangkok, 2 September 2008 — ITU TELECOM ASIA 2008 opened its doors today in Bangkok, Thailand unveiling an array of leading edge information and communication technologies (ICT) as well as a high-profile Forum focused on today’s connected generation and sustainable new business models for growing the ICT sector.

This followed the formal opening yesterday by HRH Princess of Thailand Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. In her opening address, the Princess stated, "ITU TELECOM ASIA 2008 is the leading showcase of the latest technology innovation of the ICT industry within the Asia-Pacific region. I sincerely hope that ITU TELECOM ASIA 2008 will provide benefits for the advancement of ICT as well as telecommunication towards the people sector, business, trade and investment, and promote collaboration within the Asia-Pacific region and beyond."

HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn is renowned for her expertise in information technology and for applying it in the development of her country. She visited the TELECOM ASIA Exhibition show floor and expressed her deep interest in the technologies, applications and services on display. ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré presented the ITU Award for Connecting the World to the Princess in recognition of her exceptional contribution in promoting ICTs in Thailand and around the world.

The Prime Minister of Thailand, Mr Samak Sundaravej introduced the salient features of ITU TELECOM ASIA 2008 at the royal opening ceremony.

ICT showcase

Occupying three halls of the IMPACT Challenger venue with a total floor area of over 15 000 square metres, the Exhibition highlights state-of-the-art ICT innovation and development and includes national pavilions from China, France, Korea, Japan, Russia, Thailand and the United States. Over 170 exhibitors from around the world hail from Australia, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Germany, France, Hong Kong (China), Netherlands, India, Korea (Rep. of), Israel, Japan, Netherlands, Malaysia, Russian Federation, Switzerland, Thailand, UAE, United Kingdom, and USA. The Exhibition also features the "One UN Pavilion" with several UN agencies joining ITU, including UNESCAP, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNHCR, ILO, UNDP and WHO.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré observed that TELECOM ASIA showcases the trends and technologies that define future global markets. "Asia is at the cutting edge, both in terms of pioneering technologies and the way the region interacts with these technologies to define new digital lifestyles," Dr Touré said. "Yet, while some nations lead the world in defining, developing and deploying ICTs, others still strive to make basic products and services affordable and accessible to their populations. Despite the region’s wealth of technological skill and evident enthusiasm for the many benefits ICTs can offer, the Digital Divide remains a significant blight on Asia’s economic landscape."

Addressing the opening Press conference, Dr Mun Patanotai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Information and Communication Technology of Thailand noted that the availability of broadband access is crucial for the expansion of businesses related to knowledge-based services for companies and individuals, such as e-commerce and outsourcing as well as for digital public services, such as e-government, e-learning and e-health. "In line with regional trends, Thailand’s ICT and telecom sector has itself entered a strong growth phase," said Mr Patanotai. "Fast-changing technology, competitive prices and the entry of new financial players have intensified the competition in Thailand."

Speaking at the opening Press conference, the Executive Manager of ITU TELECOM and Deputy Secretary-General of ITU, Mr Houlin Zhao noted that Bangkok was selected as the venue following a competitive bidding process. He said, "Thailand is a major hub of Asia’s booming ICT industry. A host of new technologies, such as Wi-MAX or next-generation mobile are gaining ground across the region, and these have the potential to reach out to huge numbers of new users. The combination of all these factors makes it a truly awe-inspiring region."

ITU TELECOM Forum focuses on New Generation, New Values

The Forum opened today focusing on the theme for ITU TELECOM ASIA 2008 — New Generation, New Values which pays tribute to the region’s reputation as a global leader for innovation and a burgeoning population of ICT users. The opening sessions took a look at the ‘Broadband Generation’ of ‘New Users, New Needs and New Solutions’, ‘New Business Models’ and ‘New User Interfaces’. As the telecommunications and ICT industry emerges at the forefront of the climate change debate, the Forum will address green solutions and approaches to the environment as well as promote the strengthening of emergency communications to save lives in the event of natural disasters.

The Asia-Pacific region is home to an increasing number of new users, many under the age of 18, with expectations and behaviour that radically challenge existing technology design. The total number of telephone subscribers passed the two billion mark by end 2007. China and India alone now have over 600 and 280 million mobile cellular subscribers, respectively, representing close to a quarter of the world’s total. The region has over 40 per cent of the world’s broadband market share. This has led to the uptake of a variety of advanced Internet technologies.

Yet, there is a stark contrast between the region’s high-income economies and the low and lower-middle income economies, where progression towards fixed and mobile broadband is slow and Internet access is limited and costly. While most of the region’s high-income economies have launched mobile broadband networks, few of the low and lower-middle income economies have done so.

These trends were outlined yesterday at the Press launch of ITU’s Asia Pacific Telecommunication and ICT Indicators Report for 2008, which focuses on broadband connectivity in the region. Presiding over the launch, Mr Sami Al Basheer, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau said, "Innovative Asia has reduced the cost of communication, and the Internet is increasingly turning into the new marketplace for international commerce. The region stands out in the uptake of advanced Internet technologies with access to broadband. Yet a huge gap exists between the high income countries where people live the ultimate high-speed Internet experience and others where even basic services are hard to reach."

The ITU Asia-Pacific Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Report — "Broadband in Asia-Pacific: Too much, too little?" is an invaluable information tool to inform and guide policy-makers, investors, analysts and other observers of the region’s telecommunications landscape. It contains an extensive overview of key sector developments, and includes a number of recommendations to sustain growth and deepen access to ICTs in the region.

Ministerial meetings

Examining the regional ICT landscape, a Ministerial round table delved into the issues of connecting the unconnected in the Asia-Pacific region as well as indicating their vision for the implementation and development of ICT services. They also examined the challenges facing the future development of the telecommunications and ICT sector. The Ministers met later for a high-level dialogue with business leaders, focusing on Investment and the market environment, government and industry interests, as well as public/private partnerships and future cooperation.

Securing the future

The Youth Forum brought in 75 participants from around 40 countries to attend ITU TELECOM ASIA 2008. Addressing the Youth, Mr Al Basheer said, "The Youth Forum builds on the ITU’s long-term commitment to assist and support low income and least developed countries in their efforts to progressively improve the standard and scope of their telecommunication infrastructure and to ensure that their citizens are well equipped to bridge the digital divide." The opening on Sunday, ahead of ITU TELECOM ASIA 2008, was marked by the gift of XO laptops from One Laptop per Child (OLPC) to each of the participants.

As the young ICT-savvy generation expresses its strong demands based on a new set of social values and dialogue, Youth Forum participants have been mingling with policy-makers and business leaders examining the broad implications for the ICT industry. "Capacity building starts with young people and is part of the larger vision of ITU," Chairman of the ITU TELECOM Board of Directors, Mr Reza Jafari said. "The Youth Forum is an opportunity for the new generation to take responsibility for the future."

Media accreditation

Accreditation for media and industry analysts for ITU TELECOM ASIA 2008: www.itu.int/ASIA2008/media/accreditation/index.html 

All journalists and industry analysts who wish to gain full access to information and benefit from media services for this event need to be accredited. Accreditation to ITU TELECOM ASIA 2008 provides access to the Exhibition, Forum and Media Centre as well as:

  • ITU Asia Pacific Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Report and other documents
  • Forum Proceedings
  • VIP interview availability schedules
  • Media and analyst events scheduled by participants
  • Contact details for participants’ Press officers
  • Free broadcast-quality video on ITU TELECOM ASIA 2008 is available at www.thenewsmarket.com/ITU
  • ITU’s YouTube channel carries interviews and coverage of ITU TELECOM: www.youtube.com/itutelecommunication

    For more information, please visit www.itu.int/ASIA2008/ or contact:

    Sanjay Acharya
    Chief, Media Relations and Public Information
    ITU
    Tel: +41 22 730 5046
    Mobile: +41 79 249 4861
    E-mail
    Bangkok mobile: +66 86 908 5231 (until 5 September)
     

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    Updated : 2008-09-02