THE era of telecommunications has become an integral part of our lives. Over the years, telecommunications has made our world smaller. Thanks to telecommunications, a mother can call her son in Canada, a student can access information in a US university, a brokerage can trade shares on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and an overseas company can conduct millions of dollars worth of business in Hong Kong and China. Helping all this to happen is Hongkong Telecom, the company that has built the satellite earth stations, laid the undersea cables and provided Hong Kong with a complete, state-of-the-art, fibre-optic network, the first for a city of this size in the world. From corporate level to street level, Hongkong Telecom meets the needs of Hong Kong people to stay in touch. The early phonecards were issued for just one purpose - to enable people to use cardphones without coins. A phonecard is also a tool for communication on another level - for cultural exchange, for advertising or image building. For the past 11 years, Hongkong Telecom phonecards have reflected the many facets of our diverse and dynamic community. The 400 phonecards we have issued to date have illustrated the progress of Hong Kong. The first International Phonecards World to be held in Hong Kong will be of great interest to the territory's growing number of collectors. It features exhibits from 25 international telecommunications carriers and collectors' clubs. Visitors from the business and advertising sectors will be able to see examples of exquisitely-designed phonecards produced by Hongkong Telecom to carry corporate and commemoration messages, or company branding. Phonecards are popular with businesses from fast food and film companies to charity organisations. A phonecard is an essential addition to the range of telecoms services as well as the range of advertising media available in Hong Kong. We are happy to join with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council to bring International Phonecards World to Hong Kong as part of the extremely popular Christmas Showcase. I congratulate all those who have worked to make this venture a reality and I thank our overseas colleagues and associates for their participation.