Expert urges co-operation on superhighway

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 June, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 June, 1994, 12:00am

JAPANESE regulators yesterday renewed calls for closer co-operation between Asian nations in designing the regulatory and technical environment for the information superhighway.

Despite often vast differences in expanse and sophistication of the existing telephone networks in Asian countries, it was important that there was a clear and common understanding of precisely what the next generation of information infrastructure was supposed to be, said Yoshio Utsumi, the international affairs department director-general of Japan's Ministry of Post and Telecommunications.

Japan first raised the concept of an Asian Information Infrastructure (AII) at a meeting of the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity held in The Maldives last month.

Speaking at a conference organised by the Economist Conferences in Hong Kong, Mr Utsumi said building the next generation of international multimedia communications infrastructure would require extensive international discussion and co-operation.

Asian nations should have a forum for discussing specific issues that relate to the information highway in the region - just as regulatory counterparts in Europe and North America have existing mechanisms for greater co-operation.

The more advanced nations in the region should be expected to assist in the development of the telecommunications infrastructure of their less-developed neighbours, Mr Utsumi said.

''The concept of an AII should be very carefully defined,'' Mr Utsumi said. ''It is very important to have a common understanding for the development of telecommunications.'' Mr Utsumi also outlined recently announced plans to roll out a nationwide fibre-optic based network in Japan that would connect every home and business by 2010.

At an estimated cost of 123 trillion yen (about HK$9.5 trillion), Mr Utsumi said the privately funded network was expected to connect the populations of prefecture capitals - about 20 per cent of the total - by 2000.