Telecommunications and Information

The APEC Telecommunications and Information Working Group (TEL) advances the development of information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure and services in the Asia-Pacific region. and promotes cooperation, information sharing and the development of effective ICT policies and regulations. It also aims to enhance social and economic development through the effective use of ICTs as well as to promote a secure and trusted ICT environment.

The TEL aims to ensure that all people in the Asia-Pacific region have affordable access to ICTs and the internet. In 2000, Leaders set the Brunei Darussalam goal of universal internet access by 2010; in 2008, the TEL Bangkok Declaration affirmed the commitment to achieving universal access to broadband by 2015; and the 2010 TEL Okinawa Declaration set the ambitious goal of access to next-generation high-speed broadband by 2020, to nurture the growth of knowledge-based economies in the APEC region.

In 2017, Leaders noted the importance of promoting the internet economy, and welcomed the adoption of the APEC Internet and Digital Economy Roadmap, which the TEL will contribute in implementing.

The TEL also supports achieving open and free trade and investment in the APEC region by 2020 in the field of ICT—a component of the Bogor Goals.

The TEL conducts its work program through the following steering groups:

  • Liberalisation Steering Group (LSG)
  • ICT Development Steering Group (DSG)
  • Security and Prosperity Steering Group (SPSG)

Mutual Recognition Arrangement Task Force (MRATF) was created under the LSG to implement a mutual recognition arrangement on conformity assessment of telecommunications equipment (MRA-CA) and to draft a mutual recognition arrangement for equivalence of technical requirements in telecommunications equipment (MRA-ETR). In 2015, the “Mutual Recognition Arrangement Task Force” was renamed the “Conformity Assessment and MRA Task Force.”

The steering groups and task force propose and implement projects that address priorities set by both telecommunications and information ministers and APEC Leaders.  In 2015, the 10th Ministerial Meeting on Telecommunications and Information (TELMIN10) endorsed the TEL Strategic Action Plan for 2016–2020, with the following priority areas:

  • Develop and support ICT innovation
  • Promote a secure, resilient and trusted ICT environment
  • Promote regional economic integration
  • Enhance the digital economy and the internet economy
  • Strengthen cooperation

Last page update: November 2018

Current Activities

The 58th Meeting of the Telecommunications and Information Working Group (TEL58) was held in Taipei, Chinese Taipei, from 30 September to 5 October 2018. A total of 341 delegates and guests from 19 Member Economies and other guest organizations participated in TEL58. The Chairperson of National Communications Commission, Ms Ting-I Chan, and the TEL Chair, Dr Morris Lin, made opening remarks at the first Plenary on 1 October 2018. The TEL Chair’s speech can be found here.

The TEL continued implementing the TEL Strategic Action Plan 2016–2020 (SAP) and conducted the Mid-Term Review to examine TEL’s progress made since 2016. The SAP was modified to align TEL’s work with the latest guidance from APEC Leaders and Ministers, as well as respond to the latest ICT advancement. The revised SAP, which identifies essential tasks to do for post-2018, was finally endorsed at TEL58.

In addition, the TEL strengthened cross-fora collaboration efforts and cooperated with the Human Resources Development Working Group (HRDWG), Emergency Preparedness Working Group (EPWG) and Electronic Commerce Steering Group (ECSG) on TEL58 projects. The lead shepherd of the HRDWG also attended TEL58 to share the HRDWG’s activities and his views on the potential areas of collaboration.

Apart from that, three industry and regulatory roundtables, on digital literacy, smart cities, and universal broadband services, were conducted at TEL58, aiming to stimulate constructive dialogue on those crucial issues between the public and private sectors. Member Economies also conducted four workshops on relevant topics including: 1) Emerging technologies for digital government; 2) IoT applications for disaster monitoring; 3) Digital Economy strategies and measurements; and 4) Public-Private dialogue on social networks development.

The next TEL meeting (TEL59) will be hosted by Chile in 2019.

ICT Development Steering Group (DSG)

In 2017, there were approximately 3.6 billion Internet users globallyabout 48 per cent the world’s population.  Mobile-broadband subscriptions have grown more than 20 per cent annually in the last five years and reached 4.2 billion globally by end 2017.[1]  Access to ICT is a key metric in efforts to reduce poverty, empower citizens and foster economic development.

However, the benefits of ICT are not evenly enjoyed in our society and half of the world’s population is still offline. Most of them belong to vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, persons with disabilities, remote communities and low-income households. Therefore, promoting digital inclusion and innovative applications have been TEL’s top priorities for years.

In this regard, the ICT Development Steering Group (DSG) focuses on expanding digital access and usage, and exploring new ICT applications and services in the APEC region. In 2018, the DSG worked on the following activities:

1. Industry Roundtable on Smart Cities Experience Sharing (Chinese Taipei)

The roundtable was held on 2 October 2018, aiming to foster discussions on promoting the sustainability of smart cities by sharing best practices among member economies. The Roundtable took place with 60 participants and eight speakers from Viet Nam; Chinese Taipei; Japan; Indonesia; and Thailand who presented at three sessions:

1. Vision of sustainable smart cities: Opportunities and challenges

2. Applications on sustainable smart cites: services and solutions

3. Public-private partnership in sustainable smart cities: Cooperation and coordination.

2. Workshop on Earthquakes and Waterfloods Monitoring System with the application of the Internet of Things (IoT) (Russia)

This APEC-funded workshop was held on 1 October 2018, aiming to help detect emergency (earthquakes and waterfloods) signals on the earliest stages and considerably increase predictability of the existing systems. A total of 12 researches were presented at four sessions:

  1. Increasing the potential of existing earthquakes, waterfloods and other natural and man-made disaster monitoring systems
  2. Existing indicators on global space-time and navigational systems, global and domestic weather monitoring systems etc.
  3. Possible solutions for IoT indicators, mathematical processing of monitoring data, ICT-based remote monitoring hardware
  4. Way forward: APEC economies cooperate to further increase the potential of disaster monitoring systems

3. Workshop on the Potential of Emerging Technologies such as Blockchain for Digital Government (Japan)

The workshop was held on 3 October 2018, aimed to identify opportunities of adopting emerging technologies for digital government, focusing blockchain as a case example but also considering IoT and AI in the context of Smart Cities and Ageing Societies. The speakers discussed and shared views regarding:

  1. Human resource development and capacity building for digital government
  2. Innovating digital government
  3. Applications of blockchain for government.

4. ICT Applications for People with Special Needs (Ageing and Disabilities) – Extension

This multi-year project co-led by Japan and Singapore and co-sponsored by Thailand, Chinese Taipei, the United States and the Russian Federation commenced in May 2013 to create a platform for knowledge exchange on innovation for assistive ICT applications for elderly and disabled people.  Eight stages of this project had already been completed over the course of 2012–2018. The project is expected to be completed in 2020. 

5. APII R&D Test Bed Network Project (Japan, Korea) – Extension

Japan’s National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) conducted R&D activities and operates largescale test bed networks to establish New Generation Network (NWGN) technology through proof and evaluation. The test bed networks are widely available to industry, academia and government as a technology assessment environment (test bed), and to promote the timely development of new applications and strategic international joint research and cooperation through connecting test beds in the Asia-Pacific. Korea reported progress on this multi-year self-funded project, which was noted to be continued until 2020. Korea provided updates on the Korea advanced research network (KOREN) and its future applications on blockchain and medical data, cryptography.

6. APEC e-Government Research Center (Japan) – Extension

The APEC e-Government Research Center at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan, was established in 2005 to help provide solutions to various challenges of e-government. It also offers recommendations for the improvement of e-government implementation. The project is self-funded by Japan, Singapore, Thailand and Chinese Taipei. As part of the center’s commitment to address e-government issues, the center is working on an e-APEC initiative. Its main activities are monitoring and assessing the initiative, maintaining a data bank for e-government readiness for member economies and conducting training using a distance online system. The project is expected to be completed by 2020. Meanwhile APEC senior officials commissioned the Pacific Economic Cooperation Committee (PECC) to assess the initiative’s progress.

Liberalization Steering Group

Due to fast-paced disruptive technologies, different sectors are now getting more and more intertwined, making it very difficult for regulators to keep up. Polices and regulations are often criticized for lagging behind innovations and even for being obstacles to new technologies. A telecom industry report[2] also shows that one-third of global telecom leaders are concerned about uncertain regulatory environment. Therefore, it is important for TEL to work towards promoting regulatory and enabling environments for new ICT.

To this end, the Liberalization Steering Group focuses on regional economic integration in ICT and effective policy and regulatory frameworks for industrial innovation and public interest. This year, they are working on the following activities:

1. Conformity Assessment & Mutual Recognition Arrangement Task Force (CA&MRA TF)

The 1998 APEC Telecommunications Mutual Recognition Arrangement (APEC-TEL MRA) is a multilateral arrangement between economies in the APEC region to facilitate the recognition of each other’s conformity assessment results. These arrangements are intended to streamline the conformity assessment procedures for a wide range of ICT equipment, facilitating trade among signatories to the APEC-TEL MRA. Over 20 years, this agreement has helped encourage innovation in the region and stimulated the growth of the technology sector. For international ICT companies, the APEC-TEL MRA has reduced the number of hurdles to approving new technologies, providing local access for exporting entities by allowing in-economy testing and created the incentive to design products to international standards.

2. Regulatory Roundtable on Best Practices for Promoting Universal Broadband Services, 2 October 2018 (Chinese Taipei)

The regulatory roundtable was held on 2 October 2018 and attended by approximately 60 participants, including eight speakers from Singapore; Indonesia; Malaysia; New Zealand; United States; and Chinese Taipei. The objectives of this roundtable were to share best practices undertaken by member economies with the aim of reducing the digital divide between urban and rural areas. It was noted that broadband had become more commonly viewed not only as an important means or tool for acquiring information, but also as a basic right to access, such as a utility.

3. Industry Roundtable on Best Practices for Enhancing Citizens’ Digital Literacy (Chinese Taipei)

The industry roundtable was held on 1 October 2018 and attended by about 60 participants. A total of eight speakers presented at the roundtable, including the chair of APEC Human Resource Development Working Group (HRDWG), four government representatives from Korea; Australia; Chinese Taipei and three private sector speakers from Google, Facebook, Asia Pacific Top Level Domain Association (APTLD). The main objective was to facilitate information exchange and cooperation in the promotion of digital literacy among citizens so as to improve capabilities of participating in the digital economy.

4. Workshop on Digital Economy Strategies and Measurement (Singapore)

The workshop was held on 3 Oct 2018 and attended by 50 participants from more than 10 APEC member economies. The workshop was designed to help drive the adoption and development of coherent digital economy strategies among APEC economies, as well as to encourage mutual learning on how to effectively measure and monitor the progress of such strategies. The workshop was divided into two sessions:

  1. Strategies and challenges in the digital economy
  2. Development of the digital economy and its measurement. The workshop had sharing from seven speakers from Chinese Taipei; Japan; ROK, Malaysia, Singapore; Thailand; and the United States.


In 2018, “cyber-attacks” and “massive data fraud” are listed in the top five global risks in terms of likelihood [3] . It is almost inevitable that cyber-risks will continue to intensify as the world becomes more digitally interconnected. Therefore, TEL endeavors to build collective capacity to ensure a secure and trusted ICT environment through various measures, such as raising cyber security awareness, protection of vulnerable groups and encouraging secure cross-border flows of information.

The Security and Prosperity Steering Group (SPSG) focuses on promoting security and trust in e-commerce and networks and cybercrime prevention. They are working on the following activities:

1. APEC Framework for Securing the Digital Economy (Thailand)

The project initially aimed to develop the APEC Cybersecurity Framework, with a view to help APEC economies improve their understanding and awareness of work going on across the region and in relevant international bodies, promote discussions of best practices for addressing key issues on the topic and begin to identify common themes and frameworks in regional and global approaches to secure, safe and trustful online environment. The project terms of reference were endorsed by the TELWG in 2015 to be used as a primary reference for developing the framework. Cybersecurity Framework workshops were held at TEL56 and TEL57 to review and discuss the draft framework presented by Thailand. At TEL57, the meeting agreed to rename the framework the “APEC Framework for Securing the Digital Economy,” which brings forth a different and niche direction than the initially intended comprehensive Cybersecurity Framework. The TEL58, there was a heated discussion on the draft framework, which is expected to be finalized and endorsed by TEL in 2018.

2. Public–Private Dialogue on Status, Trends, Opportunities and Threats of Social Network (Thailand)

This workshop took place on 1 October 2018, which was attended by approximately 45 participants from 12 member economies, international organizations, and the private sector. The workshop was divided into two sessions. The first session focused on opportunities and challenges of social network, with four speakers from Facebook, Line, Open culture Foundation, non-government organizations and the Internet Society, who shared their organization policies, views and concerns. The second session focused on cybersecurity in social networking and lessons learnt. Speakers were from the Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC), as well as the United States; Chinese Taipei; and Thailand, which shared domestic policy on cybersecurity governance, social media use by government, and the importance of critical information infrastructure in addressing cybersecurity.

3. Cyber Security Awareness Activity (United States)

Commemorating its 15th year, US Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) 2018 is a collaborative effort between the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) to ensure every citizen has the resources they need to stay safer and more secure online. The DHS recently published reports on malicious activity from North Korea and their use of malicious software on payment systems, such as ATMs, to conduct financial fraud. It has published information regarding advanced persistent threat activity on managed service providers and cloud service providers.

[1] ICT Facts and Figures 2017, ITU,

[2] Digital transformation for 2020 and beyond, Ernst & Young,$FILE/ey-digital-transformation-for-2020-and-beyond.pdf

[3] The Global Risks Report 2018, World Economic Forum,

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Telecommunications and Information

APEC economies have achieved the goal of tripling internet access in the region, originally set in the 2000 APEC Leaders' Declaration (the Brunei Declaration) and the goal of universal internet access by 2010. Economies are currently working to establish and implement policies to reach the goal of universal access to broadband by 2015.




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15 Oct

TEL 01 2018 – Recommendations for Implementation of Smart Sustainable City (SSC) ICT Infrastructure in the APEC Region

Seoul, Korea

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Dr NAM Sang-yirl

TEL Chair
Korea Information Society Development Institute (KISDI)
18 Jeongtong-ro, Deoksan-myeon
JINCHEON-GUN, Chungcheongbuk-do 27872
Korea (Rep. of)

Ms Christine Cho

Assistant to the Chair
Korea Information Society Development Institute (KISDI)
18 Jeongtong-ro, Deoksan-myeon
JINCHEON-GUN, Chungcheongbuk-do 27872
Korea (Rep. of)

Mr Adrian CHENG

Program Director