It's showtime at CommunicAsia

Sneak peek: Expect more wheeling and dealing at Asia's annual mega trade show as it sees more than 50 percent increase in exhibitors this year.

COMMUNICASIA, SINGAPORE--Over 60,000 delegates from around the world are expected to converge at this week's mega tech conferences and exhibitions branded under the Infocomm Media Business Exchange (imbX) 2006.

In particular, anchor event CommunicAsia, as well as the Enterprise IT and BroadcastAsia, has received over 17,000 pre-show registrations, according to a statement last week from organizer Singapore Exhibition Services (SES). The visitors are expected to spend more than US$4.5 billion at the exhibitions during the four days, starting June 20.

The number of exhibitors has increased--nearly 2,340 companies this year compared to around 1,500 in 2005. Major exhibitors this year include Ericsson, Huawei Technologies, Microsoft, Motorola, NTT DoCoMo, Samsung and SingTel, said SES. CommunicAsia counts among its new exhibitors this year Hong Kong's PCCW, Taiwan's Chunghwa Telecom and Singapore IT services provider Crimson Logic.

"Once again the show will be about creating opportunities and sealing deals," said Victor Wong, SES's project director for CommunicAsia in the statement. "It's simply where the business of technology comes to life."

Besides the exhibitions, included under the imbX umbrella this year are the Ministerial Forum on ICT; business forum iX2006; and the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity Investment Dialogue, Regulatory-Industry Dialogue and Operators' Forum. New to the imbX this year include a digital home and lifestyle exposition and a seminar on animation and visual effects.

The Singapore government is also expected to unveil its Intelligent Nation 2015 (iN2015) plan on Tuesday morning at the official launch of imbX.

Another event to watch out for is the inaugural Euro Southeast Asia 2006 Information and Communication Technologies Forum, which aims to gather key ICT stakeholders from Europe and Southeast Asia to discuss policy and research. Viviane Reding, the European Commissioner for Information Society and Media, will lend her presence at the event held on June 19-20.

Besides Reding, other prominent personalities this year include Wikipedia Foundation Board Member Angela Beesley, Cerulean Studios Co-founder Scott Werndorfer and Google's vice president for search products and user experience Marissa Mayer. The experts will feature in the iX2006 conference, which has its theme on collaboration and peer-to-peer technologies in the workplace.

On the show floor at CommunicAsia, the "buzzword is convergence", said SES's Wong at a pre-show briefing on Monday. The convergence theme is evident in the showcase of technologies such as 3G, WiMax and next-generation networks (NGN).

Victor Wang Shengli, president of Huawei Technologies Asia-Pacific, agreed. "This year I think that the main focus areas will be on NGN and, of course, 3G," he said. "In terms of 3G, there is a lot of talk about 'broadcasting to handheld' and 'mobile entertainment' [being] key industry trends this year. Huawei is actively working with carriers such as Vodafone to drive the adoption and penetration of 3G services."

NGN, Wang noted, will be the key business driver for both fixed and wireless carriers in the region. Huawei, he added, is partnering AIS in Thailand and Indonesia's Telkom in the wireless network spectrum; in the fixed network sector, its partners are SingTel in Singapore and Telekom Malaysia.

Vendors have also traditionally used CommunicAsia as a platform to launch new products or to announce new corporate strategies and initiatives. This year is no different.

"CommunicAsia is always an extremely important event for Huawei as we see the Asia-Pacific region as one of the most important markets for the implementation of our internationalization strategy," said Huawei's Wang. "This year we are using the region as a springboard for the global launch of the world's smallest HSDPA (high speed downlink packet access) USB modem."

The China-based company will also launch five types of CDMA (code division multiple access) handsets to boost 3G uptake; videoconferencing technology for small and midsize businesses; and data communications products, he added.

Besides new mobile phones, Korean player Samsung is also announcing, for the first time, enterprise IP products. The company's senior vice president for enterprise IP Youngsoo Ryu noted that Samsung hopes to tap on opportunities in the wireless convergence market. "We see this as an incredible opportunity to address the new growing market, where a single converged network provides voice, data, and video over any access medium."

Verisign is another company that is set to carve new business niches. The authentication and e-commerce infrastructure provider plans to announce its new communications services unit and VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) plans during CommunicAsia.

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