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Roundtable talk focuses on wireless challenges for Asia

The Wireless International Advisory Roundtable (WIAR) has outlined opportunities and challenges for the development of the wireless industry in Asia.

SINGAPORE--The Wireless International Advisory Roundtable (WIAR) has outlined opportunities and challenges for the development of the wireless industry in Asia.

The WIAR, which is a discussion session among corporate leaders of global wireless companies, institutions and the Info-communications Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) was convened in Singapore Tuesday.

Singapore’s Minister of State for Communications and IT Lim Swee Say, who chaired the discussions, told reporters that the WIAR suggested that some cities in the region must play the role of early adopters of wireless services.

"Given the infrastructure, competitiveness and high level of education in some cities, they (the cities) can be a test-bed for innovative applications and services… So that the rest of the region can (over time) learn from the experience of these cities," Lim said.

He was speaking at a press conference to reveal the findings of the roundtable discussions.

Lim added that for cities to play the role of early adopters, the wireless industry needs "to work together to create a common (infrastructure) platform so that the development of pioneering applications and services can take place smoothly".

In a statement, Nokia Networks president Sari Baldauf added: "It is very important to have a common service delivery and middleware platform for third party developers to develop applications and services."

"It is not enough for operators to collaborate. Service providers, manufacturers, and content providers also need to be a part of this collaboration. It is imperative that the standards are openly defined and not proprietary."

The IDA noted in the statement that the roundtable recommended focusing on selected vertical sectors, such as banking, transport, healthcare, retail, manufacturing and logistics because wireless technologies can transform these sectors, making these leading Asian cities a showcase for wireless applications and services.

Meanwhile, Lim observed that despite being a series of micro markets with digital divide and cultural diversity challenges, Asia had the largest user base in the world in terms of mobile communications.

In addition, he cited the example of Japan leading in the early development of applications such as i-Mode. "The good news is that Asia Pacific today is not lagging behind the rest of the world in both mobile communications and wireless and data services," Lim said.

The roundtable noted the immense potential of future wireless developments. "Technology alone will not drive wireless adoption," the IDA added in the statement. "Instead, the focus should be on the value technology creates for end users."