Communications technologies address the issue of how signals can be transmitted and properly received over a noisy channel. They can range from simple point-to-point voice communication to multi-party, multi-channel and multi-media applications. Examples of communications technology platforms include cellular systems, wireless LANs and wireless personal area networks.
Over the years, Hong Kong has built up substantial competitive edge in its telecommunication sector given its sophisticated telecommunication infrastructure, open and competitive operating environment, deep technology diffusion in the community and its position as the global test-bed of new technologies. There is also a local industry presence with companies that produce advanced telecommunications products, with some 50 manufacturing firms and 900 trading firms related to the telecommunication equipment sector. The Mainland is also witnessing rapid developments in the area and has become one of the fastest growing telecommunication markets in the world. Indeed, the mobile terminal production in the Mainland is surging forward and many large-sized companies, such as Huawei and ZTE, have been engaging in the design and manufacturing of high-end telecommunications equipment.
The benefits of developing communications technologies are multi-fold. On one hand, the community and end-users would stand to benefit as wireless services improve the quality of life and enhance productivity and efficiency. On the other hand, the local industry would benefit from the improved competitiveness through the upgrading of its technological base. A prosperous telecommunication sector would create job opportunities and tradable services, applications or components. In this way, Hong Kong could strengthen its position as the communication hub of the region, create a critical mass of future wireless engineers with product design and innovation experience, and spur additional investment in this area.
Strengths and Opportunities
Hong Kong has been renowned for its achievement as a pioneer in the adoption of new communications technologies and has been regarded as a test-bed for the industry globally. For example, Hong Kong is the first metropolitan area to have the telephone network digitized in the early 90's, the first to adopt the CDMA standards in the world, the first in Asia to launch Multi-media Messaging Services (MMS) and one of the first to introduce General Packet Radio Services (GPRS). This has put Hong Kong at the forefront of competitive telecommunications services. Moreover, Hong Kong has a strong base of research at the local universities and the ASTRI. They have the research capabilities to develop technologies with potential for commercialization within their spheres of excellence. Building on its local industry strength, professional competency, and strategic gateway position, Hong Kong has the potential to carve out an important role in wireless application and mobile terminal component development.
Risks and Weakness
Along with the great potential, there are equally strong risks due to severe competitions from competitors all around the world. Undoubtedly, the telecommunication industry in Hong Kong has an edge over its competitors in the region in many areas such as penetration of various services and first hand access to advanced technologies. However, competitors are catching up fast. Hong Kong must maintain its vigilance and should not allow its competitive edge to be diluted or eroded.
R&D Centre for Information and Communications Technology
Hong Kong has a strong base of expertise in this technology area. Besides universities, the Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI) has been very active in developing technologies with commercialization potential within their spheres of excellence, and in transferring technologies through training, licensing and turn-key projects to meet the market needs of Hong Kong and neighbouring regions. Under the new strategy of innovation and technology development, ASTRI is hosting the R&D Centre for Information and Communications Technology. R&D under the technology area of communications technologies will be subsumed under the development plan of the ASTRI. Potential development topics will include, among others, development of handset component technologies, development of wireless application platforms, and setting up of test-beds to support developers and operators. Further details can be found here.