| Friday, January 21, 2000, updated at 20:21(GMT+8)
Business Hong Kong Poised to Become E-Commerce Hub
New T&T, Hong Kong's fastest-growing fixed network telecom operator, announced on January 20 that it is spending a further 2.5 billion HK dollars (320 million US dollars) in the next five years to upgrade its telecommunications network.
This is on top of the 2.7 billion HK dollars (346 million US dollars) it has already invested in Hong Kong over the past four years, said Stephen Ng, the company's chairman and managing director.
According to Ng, New T&T has recently signed a landmark partnership agreement with China Telecom to inter-connect their respective fiber optic networks, which will significantly increase voice and data capacity to support the explosive growth in traffic to and from the mainland.
In Hong Kong, the company has already laid over one million meters of fiber optic cable and is expected to increase this to 1.35 million meters by the end of this year. Many of Hong Kong's prime buildings have already been converted into "e-buildings" by New T&T with advanced facilities and features.
New T&T became the first Hong Kong fixed telecommunications services operator to join a multinational consortium last September, laying an eight billion HK dollar (1.02 billion US dollar) trans-Pacific submarine fiber-optic cable linking Japan and the US that will more than double Hong Kong's total international telecommunications capacity.
The company's e-connection's vision for 2000 has already started to reshape the telecommunications market and will consolidate its position as Hong Kong's number two telecom provider.
New T&T is only one of many Hong Kong telecom companies that are making big strides in contributing to the Hong Kong's expansion of e-frastructure in a drive to build Hong Kong into an e-business hub of the Asia-Pacific region.
According to the Office of the Telecommunications Authority, Hong Kong's total market for new business lines increased by 5.3 percent last year.
Hong Kong plans to speed up the development of the Internet-based infrastructure in a move to enhance its competitiveness as an international financial center, a report released recently by the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) showed.
The report recommends that to keep the leading position of Hong Kong as an international financial center in terms of risk mitigation, increased efficiency and cost reduction, Hong Kong should put together an e-frastructure.
The e-frastructure will facilitate the development of e-trading in securities and derivatives in Hong Kong and the Asia-Pacific region, SFC Chairman Andrew Sheng told a press briefing here.
"With implementation of the e-frastructure Hong Kong can aspire to become one of the leading centers for liquidity, clearing, settlement and risk management in Asia and the portal for strategic links with global markets in the region," Sheng said.
The report, which has been submitted to Financial Secretary Donald Tsang, proposes an array of measures to facilitate and accelerate the implementation of the e-frastructure.
Almost all of Hong Kong's large telecom and Internet companies have joined their efforts to expand Hong Kong's e-frastructure. The Pacific Century Cyberworks, Hong Kong's largest Internet company by market value, is not pausing in its moves to widen its presence in the cyber world.
"We want to lead the race for e-commerce, which has already begun," said Francis Yuan, deputy chairman of the company, while launching the new head office of iLink.net, a new network management provider poised to tap the business-to-business e-commerce in the Asia-Pacific region, which is estimated to be worth 280 billion US dollars by 2003.
CCT Telecom Holdings has also announced that it planned to use 750 million HK dollars (96.2 million US dollars) of the proceeds to finance the development of a local wireless fixed broadband telecommunications network and a satellite-based external telecom gateway.
The Hong Kong-based iLink.net will also focus on small and medium-size enterprises to get on e-commerce as soon as possible, according to iLink.net CEO Billy Tam.
Hong Kong's Secretary for Information Technology and Broadcasting K C Kwong has recently called for joint efforts by the academia, the industry and the government to promote the development of electronic commerce in Hong Kong.
Electronic commerce, fueled by the exponential growth in Internet users worldwide and the advances in Internet computing, was growing by leaps and bounds, Kwong said at the inauguration of new Masters of Science programs on e-commerce and Internet Computing launched by the University of Hong Kong.
"The government fully recognizes the importance of e-commerce in driving our long-term economic growth," Kwong said, adding: "We are committed to providing a favorable environment for e-commerce to take hold and flourish in Hong Kong and are embarking on various initiatives to achieve this challenging goal."
A report released by the Trade Development Council Thursday said the role of Hong Kong as a financial and telecommunications hub will be growing since more traffic will be generated between the mainland and overseas through the region with the mainland's entry into the World Trade Organization.
In Hong Kong, the number of Internet users has surpassed the one million mark and is continuing to grow, and the volume of Internet traffic in and through Hong Kong last year almost doubled and the number of Internet users making purchases on-line increased by 50 percent.
Industry estimates suggest that the total value of products and services transacted over the Internet in Hong Kong will increase from 60 million US dollars in 1998 to 2.4 billion U.S. dollars by 2003, indicating that Hong Kong is poised to ride on the electronic commerce wave. (Xinhua)Printer-friendly Version In This Section
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