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REFILING: 2ND LD: APEC sets 'ambitious' target to expand high-speed broadband network
[October 31, 2010]

REFILING: 2ND LD: APEC sets 'ambitious' target to expand high-speed broadband network

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) NAGO, Japan, Oct. 31 -- (Kyodo) _ (EDS: NO CHANGE IN CONTENTS) Pacific Rim economies on Sunday set an "ambitious" target of diffusing high-speed broadband networks by 2020 and agreed to cooperate on promoting effective use of information and communication technologies in such fields as education, medical care, environmental protection and disaster management.

At the end of a two-day Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum ministerial meeting on the telecommunications and information industry, participants adopted a declaration and action plan for better utilizing ICT to improve social and economic activities.

"We affirm that information and communications technologies are crucial to drive further development of a robust and innovative global economy and ICT is a key to realizing the APEC Leaders' Growth Strategy," the declaration said.

The outcome of the meeting in Nago, Okinawa Prefecture will be forwarded to the upcoming summit of the 21-member APEC in mid-November in Yokohama.

At a press conference after the Okinawa parley, Japan's Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Yoshihiro Katayama said as its chair, "We agreed to cooperate in enabling all the people in the APEC region to benefit from ICT." He also said the Okinawa gathering offered a good opportunity to share the challenges that each APEC economy faces in the telecommunication and information industries.

The declaration said APEC ministers "welcome" the fact that the previous target set in 2000 of having APEC economies secure universal Internet access by 2010 has been largely achieved.

But APEC ministers said further efforts are necessary to reduce the digital divide and they agreed to set an "ambitious goal of access to next generation high-speed broadband by 2020." Access to the Internet varies between APEC member economies. The broadband penetration rate stands at 0.7 percent in Indonesia and 2.8 percent in Peru, while it reaches 27.1 percent in the United States and 24.9 percent in Japan, according to the International Telecommunication Union, the United Nations' agency for ICT issues.

For developing ICT infrastructure, APEC ministers affirmed that wireless Internet networks will be a key method and stressed the importance of smooth deployment of IPv6, or Internet Protocol version 6, which is designed to solve problems of the current IPv4 version such as address depletion.

After developing ICT infrastructure, effectively utilizing it to improve the region's social and economic activities is important, APEC ministers said in the declaration. They added that the region will share best practices for ICT applications in areas such as education and medical services, for instance in remote medical services and electronics textbooks.

They also agreed to cooperate better on utilizing ICT in the area of environmental protection and disaster management Japan is the APEC chair this year and is hosting a series of meetings nationwide.

The Okinawa talks, co-chaired by Katayama and Economy, Trade and Industry Senior Vice Minister Tadahiro Matsushita, are the eighth APEC ministerial meeting on telecommunications and information, and the first in Japan.

APEC, which accounts for about half the world's economic output, involves members such as Australia, China, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, the United States, and seven members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

(c) 2010 Kyodo News International, Inc.

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