Speech by S for IT at Critical Communications World Congress

Hong Kong (HKSAR) -      Following is the speech by the Secretary for Innovation and Technology, Mr Nicholas W Yang, at the Critical Communications World (CCW) Congress today (May 17):

Mr Kidner (Chief Executive Officer, TETRA and Critical Communications Association, Mr PhilKidner), distinguished guests, friends, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good morning. I am delighted to join you today at this year's Critical Communications World Congress.

     This is the 19th edition of the CCW and Hong Kong is proud to host this Congress again since the last one in 2008. Over the past two decades, the Congress and exhibition have grown both in numbers and reputation.

Today, policymakers, network professionals, hardware vendors and application developers from all over the world join this event to exchange views on the latest developments in the critical communications community. Recent forecast suggests that the Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) market will reach roughly US$4.4 billion by 2022, mainly due to the growing demand for mission critical communications. Expectedly, the APAC region will grow the fastest between now and 2022.

Hong Kong is certainly one of the key players in the region, given our world-class ICT infrastructure and professional emergency response capability. Hong Kong has the most robust telecommunications network in the region, connected by 10 satellites for external communications and 10 regional and trans-Pacific submarine cable systems. A new trans-Pacific submarine cable connecting Hong Kong and Los Angeles directly will be completed next year.

This will further increase our network capacity by 120 Tbps. Apart from putting us in a good position for the development of TETRA market and data communications services in the public and private sectors, the network provides the backbone for smart city development in Hong Kong.

     The Hong Kong SAR Government is committed to embracing innovation and technology to make our city more comfortable, more convenient and safer. Through smart city development, we hope to make use of innovation and technology to address urban challenges to enhance city management, and improve quality of living, sustainability, efficiency and safety of our city.

This will also provide opportunities for sustainable economic development, as well as attracting the best international talents to Hong Kong.

     We have commissioned a consultancy study to formulate the smart city blueprint and development plan for Hong Kong up to 2030, which will be completed by 2017. Apart from mapping out development plans for specific areas including environment, healthcare and transportation, the study will formulate a holistic digital framework to support smart city development, including the communications network and infrastructure involved.

     More specifically, we need to see how data should be collected and leveraged in the Internet economy to enhance the quality of living and promote our economic growth. We should be open-minded to adopting disruptive innovations such as connected cars, wearable devices, advanced metering infrastructure and smart street lamps.

More importantly, one of the underpinning features for these smart initiatives and solutions is how data should be collected, shared and analysed across platforms supported by different devices and communication networks.

     The communications network and infrastructure are the essential building blocks for smart city development. The efficient delivery of public services using an Internet-of-things or IoT network would very much depend on the availability and reliability of the major communication components, including Wi-Fi, Low-Power Wide Area Network and 5G wireless network.

     Wi-Fi is the mainstream point-to-point access technology today and has penetrated into almost every facet of our lives. Before 5G is widely adopted, Wi-Fi will probably remain as the key connectivity technology for business and public IoT deployments in the near future.

Major cities have promoted wider adoption of Wi-Fi solutions implemented by government, public or private organisations. The objectives are to extend the range, accessibility, speed and, more importantly, the security of Wi-Fi for the public users. Hong Kong is already stepping up our efforts to increase the number of public Wi-Fi hotspots from today's 20 000 to 34 000 by 2019, under the Wi-Fi Connected City programme.

We will also enhance the security and reliability of our public Wi-Fi hotspots, and promote public-private-partnership to ensure the sustainability of Wi-Fi service at a manageable cost.

     Low-Power Wide Area Network or LPWAN is also popular in connecting sensors and controllers to the public services associated with the IoT network. LPWAN is an ideal option to allow long-range communications for connected objects such as sensors. As many IoT devices require relatively low speed and small amount of data transmission, LPWAN technologies have attracted increasing attention among the service providers, hardware manufacturers and companies in Hong Kong.

The roadmap for developing the LPWAN networks as well as the manufacture of IoT devices and associated testing are now making steady progress.

     Another key driver for a better IoT network for operating a massive number of sensors will be 5G mobile services, which are expected to roll out over the world starting in 2020. Machina Research forecasts IoT will account for one-quarter of the global 41 million 5G connections in 2024. Increased use of mobile devices to access the Internet and the rapid increase of mobile data volume will pose new challenges.

It is expected that 5G services will go far beyond existing wireless access networks, allowing high-speed mobile communication services to be reachable everywhere and at all times.

     While IoT promises amazing possibilities, we should be well aware of its security threats at the same time. IoT security is critical as smart city services will increasingly rely on a complex network of IoT devices. To address these challenges and vulnerabilities, it is imperative that security controls are embedded in both the network communication and in the devices.

The adoption of digital certificates is considered to be a strong security measure to protect IoT devices and data.

     The United Kingdom has set a good example for the adoption of digital certificates for IoT security protection. Smart gas and electricity meters are being rolled out to all households and small businesses by the end of 2020. These smart meters are supported by Public Key Infrastructure service that will make use of digital certificates to ensure authenticity, integrity, and non-repudiation of communications and data between smart meters and the systems of energy suppliers, network operators and other authorised service users.

     In order to build a smart city, we need a robust, secure and fast communications infrastructure. In this two-day Congress, local and overseas professionals will share and discuss the latest technology trends in critical communications and related case studies.

The Congress is also an excellent platform for critical communications professionals to share with us the latest innovations and how these innovations may couple with other technologies to make our cities smarter.

     Last but not least, I am grateful to the TETRA and Critical Communications Association for organising this Congress in Hong Kong again, and for bringing together such a distinguished array of high-profile speakers and industry representatives. For our visitors, I wish you all a very pleasant stay in Hong Kong.

     Thank you.

Published on: 2017-05-17

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