BUSAN -- ITU Telecom World 2017, one of the largest UN-backed information and communication technology events, kicked off in Korea’s southern port city of Busan on Monday.
Hundreds of ministers, government officials, and business leaders from ITU’s 193 member states packed the auditorium of Bexco, an exhibition center and the main event venue for the conference, to celebrate the opening of the quadrennial event.
The conference, which is being held under the theme “Better Sooner,” gives participants the opportunity to discuss how to accelerate the innovation of the ICT segment and the expansion of smart technology across the globe.
“The looming ‘fourth industrial revolution,’ driven by cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, not only creates opportunities, but also poses challenges for humanity,” said Korean President Moon Jae-in in a video message played during the opening ceremony, citing autonomous vehicles and AI-powered robots — which are often described as a double-edged sword for humans.
“I hope the Telecom World conference becomes a chance for all the participants to work together to come up with response measures to handle those challenges,” he added.
Around 5,300 government officials, policymakers, and entrepreneurs in the global ICT sector and 40,000 spectators are anticipated to join the four-day conference organized by the International Telecommunication Union, a UN agency responsible for global ICT issues, according to the preparatory committee of the event.
Companies in the telecom sector, including mobile carrier KT, a main sponsor for the ITU event, Chinese tech firm Huawei, will showcase their ICT products and solutions during the conference while small and medium-sized firms will seek future partnerships with global investors and businesses.
KT, which will display its AI-based network solutions during the event, also participated in establishing the standards of the 5G tech for an ITU declaration adopted by Korean and Central and South American ICT ministers on Sunday. The ministers called for united efforts to improve the network infrastructure in Central South America where nearly 50 percent of the entire population are not online.
“The Telecom World conference will become a platform to facilitate the contact and partnerships among all participants in the ICT sector,” said Haoulin Zhao, the secretary-general of the ITU, in his welcoming speech, adding the UN agency will continue to work to leave nobody behind in the ever-more connected world.
Delivering a keynote speech, Korea’s Science and ICT Minister Yoo Young-min vowed that the ministry will make the utmost effort to beef up the nation’s competitiveness in the emerging technologies and to close the so-called digital divide.
“The government will further invest in emerging technologies, such as the Internet of Things, and the related infrastructure,” ICT Minister Yoo said.
The city with a 3.6 million population was also the host city of the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference, a meeting among ITU members to set and revise the UN’s ICT policies, and ITU Telecom Asia, a regional ICT forum, in 2014 and 2004, respectively.
Korea, which topped the global ICT rankings in 2017 for the second straight year and is scheduled to host the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, will see a pilot service of the 5G mobile network technology up and running next year for the first time in the world.
By Kim Young-won and Sohn Ji-young (email@example.com