A STAR attraction at the recently held CommunicAsia exhibition in Singapore was Star Wars character Darth Vader and several Storm Troopers.
The fear of evil Lord Vader was not in the air as he paraded up and down the hallway with his Storm Troopers. Many curious onlookers just wanted a photo opportunity with Vader.
But when models dressed in attractive red outfits and Texan hats made their debut, the evil master was left very much alone, as the crowd pulled away to a much more alluring scene. A few booths away, many models dressed in tight-fitting suits paraded up and down a particular booth showcasing the latest cell phone offering by one company.
These were some of the scenes at the much-touted ICT show that is held year after year in Singapore. This year, it drew over 1,200 exhibiting companies from 55 countries.
The irony was that a highway separated the conference venue and that of the exhibition where a person has to travel 30-35 minutes by a coach bus to get from one venue to the other.
The reason for that, according to a representative of the organiser, was that there was no place in Singapore that could house so many exhibitors and yet offer a conference venue. The exhibition was held at Singapore Expo (near Changi Airport) and conference at The Raffles Convention Centre, downtown Singapore.
“We hate it when we have to move from one venue to another,’’ said an exhibitor who had a booth at one of the six halls at the Singapore Expo but also attended the conference and stayed at the conference hotel.
If housing a big event such as CommunicAsia is a problem in Singapore, perhaps the organiser should consider Kuala Lumpur as an alternative, for there are plenty of venues here that can accommodate any large event.
Several Malaysian companies participated at the exhibition. Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) and its group of companies took a large booth space at the exhibition. Other companies at the Malaysian pavilion included Maxis Communications Bhd, Digi.com Bhd, Jaring, TIME Dotcom Bhd, and Primeworth Sdn Bhd. The regulator of the industry, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), also took booth spaces.
TM officials said they had received a lot of enquiries on partnerships to venture into other markets while many were curious about what Time dotCom specialised in.
Broadband and VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) were much debated topics at the conference, and so were 3G, next generation networks and content.
TM group chief executive officer Datuk Abdul Wahid Omar presented a paper at the conference on Driving Broadband In Malaysia. He spoke at great length on how TM had helped spearhead broadband and the direction it was taking in line with the national broadband plan.
Broadband connectivity is what many in the urban centres want, and so far, there are over 700,000 broadband users in the country with more than half subscribing to TM’s broadband services. The potential is great and according to the Malaysia’s national broadband plan, there should be 1.2 million broadband users by the end of next year and close to 3 million by end 2008.
Broadband allows for high-speed connection to the Internet, speeding up communications and in some cases, lowering business costs while at the same time freeing up the fixed phone line for voice connectivity.
Ericsson president Carl-Henric Svanberg, speaking at the conference, said broadband wireless was paving the way for new services, with content and media playing a very important role. He talked about how demand for music and TV would create new revenue streams for mobile and fixed line operators in the future.
Wahid sees 3G as an alternative medium for broadband connectivity, and that is why he hopes TM would have more than half-a-million broadband subscribers by year-end and one million by end 2006.
The opportunities are aplenty with broadband, as it does not just create new revenue streams for telcos or celcos; a wireless mobility solution can link more people everywhere without the need to dig into the earth to lay cables.
But the main challenge for mobile operators in Asia is content. They have to continue to create and develop differentiated service offerings and content for 3G, said Svanberg.
Talking about content, it was recently announced that Asia’s first of its kind Chinese 3G mobile drama showcasing popular Asian idols would be produced, developed and released to cell phones even before it hits free-to-air TV or the video market. This is what people call capitalising on opportunities and doing it fast enough before someone else can come up with the idea.
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