Market liberalization has already given a shot in the arm to Macao's telecom market, and the growing trend is expected to last in the coming years, industry insiders noted on the World Telecommunication Day Friday.
The three telecom operators in Macao -- the Macao Telecommunications Company (CTM), which had monopolized phone service and Internet business quite long in the city, and the Hong Kong Hutchison Telecom and Smartone Mobile Telecom, its two new rivals -- jointly held an exhibition here to lure customers with their new technology and products.
As government initiatives, efforts will be made to lower the cost of telecommunications through deregulation, promotion of competition, and development of high-capacity infrastructure, Ao Man Long, secretary for transport and public works of the special administrative region (SAR) government, said at the opening ceremony for the event.
Hutchison plans to invest about 200 million patacas (US$25 million) in Macao in five years while the accumulated figure for Smartone will reach at least 110 million patacas (US$13.75 million) by 2005. The ambitious Hutchison vows to gain half of the market shares in three years.
The competitors have all upgraded infrastructure and service to take a bigger slice of the market since Smartone and Hutchison emerged in Macao last August, lifting the number of local handset users by more than 50,000 or a ninth of the SAR's population.
Mobile phone penetration in Macao rose past 40 percent at the 2001 year-end and the number of Internet users reached 34,400, who spent 18 million hours on surfing websites last year, according to statistics from the Office for Development of Telecommunications and Information Technology.
In an interview with Xinhua, Tou Veng Keong, director of the office, said that the telecom industry boasts even larger potentiality, taking into consideration the fact that adults now constitute a major proportion of the mobile phone users.
If the telecom companies put forward a package of service addressing the demand of the young and old age groups, Macao's telecom industry will be more encouraging, he noted.
Tou also urged the telecom enterprises to further improve basic facilities, expand services and take advantage of close links between Macao and the outside world to keep pace with the latest development of the sector.
"We can assume 60 percent of the Macao people will have mobile phones in the near future," he said.
(People's Daily May 17, 2002)