Asian investment in its telecommunications sector will total US$1 trillion over the next 25 years to support multimedia networked applications, according to Mike Burgess, BT Asia/Pacific's director of sales and marketing. Burgess believes that the combination of a low present level of telecommunications infrastructure, rapid industrialisation, high population and geographical divergence, will fuel this demand for new telecoms technologies.
Burgess says that the World Bank estimates that China's economy will be 40% bigger than that of the United States by 2020, requiring enormous investments in telecommunications equipment to effectively support this modernisation. Asia already accounts for 37% of the revenues at BT/MCI joint venture Concert, and that growth in this region was over 50% per annum, twice that of Europe or the United States, according to Burgess.
Burgess is urging nations to deregulate their telecommunications industries to help push technological advances, saying that freeing up the market helps boost the value of the main carrier. "BT has grown much quicker since the deregulation of the UK telecomms market in 1984, and it has pushed the value of our company up significantly," he says. "Deregulation of the telecoms industry is a matter of educating people that it is something which will help the national carrier, not damage it."
Burgess says that deregulation has turned BT from "a supplier of dial-tone telephones" to "the most aggressive player in the worldwide telecomms market."
He says that two major markets for remote telecommunications services in the next decade will be health care and education. "It is a matter of demographics in that Asians are living longer and infant mortality has been reduced," he says. "There will be a large market in remote education for youngsters and an equally big market in taking care of the growing number of elderly through telemedicine."