CommunicAsia opens doors in Singapore

CommunicAsia, one of Asia's largest IT shows, opened its doors to Southeast Asia's telecommunications industry on Tuesday.

The CommunicAsia 2005 exhibition got under way Tuesday in Singapore, with thousands of exhibitors on hand to show off the snazziest of handsets and new equipment for building high-speed 3G (third-generation) networks.

Last year, 58,000 visitors attended the annual exhibition, which featured exhibits from 2,100 companies. This year, 59,000 visitors -- almost half of them from outside Singapore -- are expected to attend the four-day event, according to Singapore Exhibition Services, the show's organizer.

More than 2,200 companies from 55 countries have set up exhibits at CommunicAsia and two other events being held in conjunction with the show: the EnterpriseIT 2005 and BroadcastAsia 2005 exhibitions.

Singapore has the largest contingent of companies at CommunicAsia this year, with 399 exhibitors. Next come the U.S. with 223 exhibitors and China with 157. The exhibitors include some of the biggest names in Asia's telecommunications industry, including Singapore Telecommunications, Samsung Electronics, Huawei Technologies, ZTE and UTStarcom, among many others.

The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), a co-host of the show, opened the exhibition Tuesday morning with the announcement that it will issue phone numbers to VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol) service providers. The new policy, effective immediately, is intended to spur development of VOIP services in Singapore, officials said.

Inside Singapore Expo, where the show is being held, the crowded show floor was dotted with stands exhibiting new cellular handsets from vendors including Samsung and Matsushita Electric Industrial, which sells phones under the Panasonic brand. Both companies are showing their latest handsets with LCD (liquid crystal display) screens capable of displaying 16 million colors.

There's also plenty of cutting-edge 3G telecommunications gear on display. Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson and Huawei are both showcasing equipment for WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) and HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access), a high-speed data add-on for WCDMA.

Besides handsets and infrastructure equipment, CommunicAsia attendees can check out some of the latest telecommunication services and applications, such as Singapore's Unified Communications Holdings' Background Music offering, a value-added service designed for operators.

Background Music -- which is currently undergoing trials in China, Malaysia and Singapore -- allows mobile-phone subscribers to play music in the background as they chat with friends. Users can choose what songs to play while they chat, or program certain songs for specific callers or caller groups, the company said.

CommunicAsia runs through Friday.