SINGAPORE, 7 June 2000 -- High-level government and industry representatives from around the Asia-Pacific met to discuss the Internet revolution
and its impact in this region.
At the end of the session, the participants reaffirmed their joint commitment to ensure that the Asia-Pacific region benefits from this technological revolution.
Hoyt Zia, Executive Director of the Pacific Telecommunications Council (PTC) and Valerie D'Costa, Chair of the APEC TELECOMMUNICATIONS WORKING GROUP, moderated the Roundtable.
The issues addressed included widening access to new technologies and services, facilitating the growth of Internet infrastructure, and spurring the development of Asian content and strategies for harnessing and nurturing Asian talent.
The threat of a digital divide
With the e-commerce business-to-consumer market estimated to hit US$100 billion, and the business-to-business market estimated at US$1 trillion by 2004 (source: The Gartner Group), the widening gap between information haves, and have-nots, is an issue which needs to be addressed in the Asia Pacific region.
Some participants commented that more affordable consumer devices and the equitable cost-sharing of Internet bandwidth could be ways to bridge this divide.
Emphasis on local content
The creation of services attractive to Asians was recognized as key to the growth of the Internet in the region.
Also, increasing creation of local content and enabling cross-recognition of certification authorities would facilitate more intra-Asian traffic.
There was a call to enhance Asian solidarity by creating regional Internet exchanges, which would ultimately, result in more affordable Internet bandwidth links.
Most industry participants argued that the perception of the lack of Net security was worse than the reality. Public education programs were suggested as a means to increase awareness in this area.
The participants also stressed the need for robust security systems, which are integral to the development of e-commerce in the region.
The session rounded-up with a discussion on the increasing brain-drain of Asian infocomm talent to other parts of the world. A means to overcome this was to set up regional bases, which would allow infocomm talent to contribute to their home economies.
At the conclusion of the 4-hour Roundtable, Asia's most influential public and private sector thinkers agreed that the Asian Infocomm Roundtable was a useful platform for regional debate of pertinent info-communications issues.