ITU ASIA : Telecom Asia to open next week

Telecom Asia, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)’s biennial Asian exhibition and conference, takes place next week in Busan, South Korea.

This year’s event is the first to be held away from Singapore or Hong Kong, the two cities that have hosted the event since it began in 1985, and it is likely to be significantly smaller than the previous event that took place in 2002 in Hong Kong. It runs from Sept. 7 to 11.

The ITU anticipates this year’s event will draw around 9,415 visitors from 25 countries to meet between 200 and 220 companies. It will occupy 10,000 square meters of floor space at Busan’s Bexco convention centre. In contrast, Telecom Asia 2002 attracted 21,330 visitors from 127 countries to meet 319 companies, and occupied 15,595 square meters, according to ITU figures released after the event. That event was also well down on the 2000 event which, at the height of the Asian telecom and Internet frenzy, attracted 50,000 people and 500 companies to Hong Kong.

More than one third of all exhibitors listed in the event’s database are South Korean and there are some big international companies missing.

Companies not listed as exhibiting include Motorola Inc., Nokia Corp., Nortel Networks Corp., Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB, Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson, Fujitsu Ltd., Panasonic Mobile Communications Co. Ltd. and Mitsubishi Electric Corp. Regional and international carriers not listed include Vodafone Group PLC, Japan’s KDDI Corp., Hong Kong’s PCCW Ltd. and Hutchison Whampoa Ltd., Singapore Telecommunications Ltd., China United Telecommunications Co. Ltd. (China Unicom) and Taiwan’s Chunghwa Telecom Co. Ltd.

The exhibition is accompanied by a conference that will see telecommunication ministers and company CEOs speak alongside other experts on topics including expanding the telecommunication network, Internet governance, digital transactions and the globalization of third generation (3G) cell phone services.

The ITU is also scheduled to release two reports during the event.

One will cover the mobile Internet and one will be the ITU’s Asia Telecommunication Indicators 2004, which will report Asia’s telecommunication market is growing at an annual rate of seven per cent, or more than twice the rate of North America and Europe, said Gary Fowlie, a spokesman for the Geneva-based organization. The report will also note that four of the top broadband-connected economies in the world are in the Asia-Pacific region, including the number-one nation, South Korea, he said.

Busan will also play host to several related conferences during the same week.

A task force established by OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries on unsolicited commercial e-mail, or spam, will meet in Busan on Sept. 8 and 9. The meeting will be hosted by South Korea’s Ministry of Information and Communication and follows a European Commission-hosted meeting that took place in Brussels in February this year.

Among issues likely to be discussed are development of an OECD antispam toolkit; network level measures and authentication systems that could reduce spam sent via e-mail, instant messaging and mobile telephones, and improving cooperation between the task force and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies and other non-OECD countries.

The ITU and Korea Agency for Digital Opportunity & Promotion (KADO) are sponsoring a “Digital Bridges Symposium” that will take place on Sept. 10 and 11 at the Bexco convention centre. The event is intended to bring together telecommunication industry experts to discuss the digital divide and develop tools that can be used to promote ICT (information and communication technology) access.

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